Theophylact_the_Bulgarian (1)On Luke 18:9-14 (the Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee).

The Lord ceaselessly purges the passion of pride in many ways.

This passion, more than any other, disturbs our thoughts, and for this reason the Lord always and everywhere teaches on this subject.

Here He is purging the worst form of pride.

For there are many offshoots of self-love. Presumption, arrogance, and vainglory all stem from this root.

But the most destructive of all these kinds of self-love is pride, for pride is contempt of God.

When a man ascribes his accomplishments to himself, and not to God, this is nothing less than denial of God and opposition to Him.

Therefore, like enemy to enemy, the Lord opposes this passion which is opposed to Him, and through this parable He promises to heal it.

He directs this parable towards those who trust in themselves and who do not attribute everything to God, and who, as a result, despise others.

He shows that when righteousness—which is marvelous in every other respect and sets a man close to God—takes pride as its companion, it casts that man into the lowest depths and makes demonic what was God-like just a short time before.

The words of the Pharisee at first resemble the words of a grateful man. For he says, God, I thank Thee. But the words that follow are full of foolishness.

He does not say, “that Thou hast made me to depart from extortion and iniquities,” but Instead, “I thank Thee that I am not an extortioner or worker of iniquity.”

He attributes this accomplishment to himself, as something done by his own strength. How can a man who knows that what he has, he has received from God, compare other men to himself unfavorably and judge them?

Certainly, if a man believed that he had received as a gift good things that in truth belong to God, he would not despise other men.

He would instead consider himself just as naked as his fellow men in regards to virtue, except that by the mercy of God his nakedness has been covered with a donated garment.

The Pharisee is proud, ascribing his deeds to his own strength, and that is why he proceeds to condemn others.

By saying that the Pharisee stood, the Lord indicates his haughtiness and lack of humility. In the same way that a humble-minded man is likewise humble in his demeanor, this Pharisee by his bearing displays his pride.

Although it is also said of the publican that he stood, note what follows: he would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, so that he was stooped in posture.

But the eyes of the Pharisee, together with his heart, were lifted up to heaven in boastful exaltation.

Theophylact of Ohrid (1055-1107): Explanation of the Gospel of St Luke, on Luke 18:10-14 (Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee) @ Chrysostom Press.

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