St. Mary Orthodox Church

Cambridge, MA

Owning Our Powerlessness - February 2018 Reflection

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Glory to Jesus Christ!

"...when we accept ownership of our powerlessness, only then can God make something beautiful out of us." - Brennan Manning

There is a good reason why the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican is the first Sunday of Pre-Lent.

The word "Pharisee" means "separate ones." They believed that they were the last remnant of faithfulness. The proof was in their strict interpretation and practice of the Law. Those who kept the law were loved by God and those who did not would incur his wrath. In this system faith rested in the practitioner rather than in God. If we can do it ourselves, one wonders whether God is really essential to the equation except as the Divine stamp of approval at the end of a perfect life.

The reason the Publican was accepted was that he took ownership of his powerlessness. He trusted that God would hear him and accept him in spite of the evil he had done. The difference between the Pharisee and Prodigal is that the first trusted only in himself and the later trusted in  God. God is essential to the Publican.

Our Lenten discipline is not to try and impress God. It is to help us recognize our absolute dependence on him. If we have not yet owned our own powerlessness, Great Lent returns year after year to give us another chance to do so. And also to become more and more convinced that God is Trustworthy, even when we are not.

With deep love and affection,
   Fr. Antony