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Orthodox Church in America
Sunday Reflections
The following reflections are from the wirttings and collections of Father Michael of blessed memory


The Publican and the Pharisee

The parable of the Publican and the Pharisee warns us how religion can be used by the devil to hide one’s separation from God. Although we Orthodox say we believe in the death and resurrection of Christ, we have to be honest with ourselves and admit that our participation in them is rarely the very definition of our lives as members of the Body of Christ. Instead of working out the resurrecting death of Christ into which we were plunged at baptism, faith is often reduced to external ehavior in which sin becomes a simple violation of some law and not a “sickness unto death.” In such a ‘Christianity’ there is no destruction of death, no “new creation” and inner transfiguration. We are not called to be simply moral and decent. Even unbelievers can be that. Rather, we are called to be holy (Hebrews 12:14), for holiness is the ‘sign’ of the Kingdom of God that Christ came to establish. No one can be holy without the Holy Spirit. And no one can receive the Holy Spirit and ‘participation in divine nature’ except through the death and resurrection of Christ. A Christianity whose content is not the process of acquiring the Holy Spirit is not only not Orthodox, but is a Christianity that - by camouflaging and concealing the reality of the fall and the real corruption of man - renders the death and resurrection of Christ meaningless.- FMK

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