In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy
On our journey towards Lent, and beyond Lent towards
Easter, we come to a series of parables which must prepare us to our
journey through Lent. And today's parable speaks to us of the pharisee
and of the publican.
The publican came into the church knowing that he has
no right to be there. In what sense? The church is a small place on
earth which is totally dedicated to God, which belongs to God alone, in
which God has a right to live, into which we come to meet Him, and
no-one else. O, of course, everyone else, but only together with Him.
And the publican stood by the door knowing that he is a stranger and
that his only hope lay in the fact that God loves. He had said in the
Old Testament, 'Child, give Me thy heart — all the rest belongs to Me'.
So, we can come and give our heart to God, and only
then can we walk into this sacred ground.
The pharisee lived according to rules; he thought, he
felt that he did everything that was expected of him according to the
Law, he had rights before God; he had a right to be in God's realm, he
was one of His people. And therefore, looking round he could compare
others who in his eyes were not worthy of the same.
Let us reflect on ourselves; when we come to church:
are we aware that it is a realm into which we can come only if our heart
has been given to God, and if our heart has become His dwelling place?
And also, if we have tried, however hard, however honestly to live
according to the Gospel, can we say 'I am worthy’, can I say 'I have a
right to be here’? No, it is only love that can give us a right; it is
only our love, mutual, and our love to God that can allow us to enter
into this sacred realm. And when we come, let us stop one moment by the
door, and think, 'This realm is sacred; it is God's dwelling place; let
me enter into it with all my heart;' turn to God and say, 'Lord, I am
unworthy, and yet, I am loved; I am impure, and yet I can love Thee, O
Lord, and the people around me. Imperfectly, but this is the only ground
on which I can stand here’. Amen.