суббота, 16 января 2010 г.

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh. Zаccheus.

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
                         Zаccheus
                           ----

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

Today's  Gospel  is  one  of  those  which prepares us for Lent. These
readings  of  the  Gospel  beginning  with  last  week  are not simply
disjointed readings; they show us how to make ourselves ready and like
a  ladder  lead us to the moment when we shall be able to meet face to
face  the  greatest reality of history, the greatest event of it - the
Resurrection  of  the  Lord Jesus Christ. I would like to attract your
attention to two things in the present Gospel.

Zaccheus  was  small  of  stature  yet  he wanted to see Christ and to
achieve this he climbed a sycamore tree to be able, above the heads of
the  crowd,  to see Christ, to meet Him face to face. This is an event
of the life of Christ, but this is also an image which we can usefully
take  advantage  of. We are all too small. We are small in stature not
only  physically but spiritually, in every respect, our hearts are too
small,  our  minds are too small. If we wish to meet Christ and to see
Him  as He is, it is not enough for us to try - we must climb, we must
take  advantage  of  a  height  which is not ours in order to see what
otherwise  we  could neither see, nor understand. This height which is
apparently,  seemingly  as  humble,  as  ordinary as the tree on which
Zaccheus climbed, is the Church. The Church with all its teaching, all
its experience, expressed not only verbally in doctrine, but expressed
in all the ways in which the Church lives, because to live a Christian
life is life that takes us from every angle.

Zaccheus  might  not have done it any more than very often we don▓t do
it,  for  the  same reason: he might have been too proud, too vain, he
might  have  counted  on  his own abilities, he might have thought, as
many  did  and  do  and will do, that they do not need the humble help
which  is offered them, because they can reach soaring to the heights.
Zaccheus  yet  was not defeated by vanity, by pride, because something
had gone on in him as we can see at the end of this reading, making it
absolutely  imperative  for  him,  of necessity to meet Christ. He was
ripe and at that moment, as everyone knows when this moment comes - we
are  prepared to face not only criticism and hatred and opposition, we
are  prepared  to  face even the ridicule of becoming like none around
us,  to  behave  in  a way that is strange to our normal surroundings.
This  person  had  the position of what we should call nowadays a bank
manager  and  yet  he  was not afraid or ashamed of all the fun he was
giving  to  the  crowd  because  he was prepared to go beyond that. It
mattered too much to him to meet Christ to worry about what those, who
had  not  reached his stage of ripe anguish for eternity, would think.
And  Christ  saw  him alone in the crowd because he alone had overcome
vanity  and  pride  in order to meet Him. The reason why he had we can
see  in  the last words of the Gospel, in his readiness to put all his
life  right  in  order  to  be worthy of the Guest who now entered his
house.

Is  not that one of the images, one after the other, that should teach
us  an  important  lesson?  The  fact that we are all so small and yet
prefer to stand upright in our pride, in our vanity, in our blindness,
rather than take advantage of the experience of centuries of things we
cannot  understand,  of things which seem to be so humble, so far away
from  the  greatness  we  are looking for, because what we look for is
greatness  out  of  our  very  small  stature  instead  of looking for
salvation  which  can  find us anywhere we are. We are stopped by this
vanity  and  pride.  Is  it not something we must learn to defeat? And
pride   and  vanity  cannot  be  defeated  by  simple  reflection,  by
meditation,  or  by  prayer.  It  is  only  when  pride and vanity are
exposed,  when  we despise them as much as others may despise us, that
we can overcome them, because then only do we stand before nothing but
the  judgement  of  God  and  the  judgement  of  Truth  spoken in our
conscience.  And in the end if we want to bear fruits for this anguish
of  God,  this  longing  for  God,  then  we  must  be  prepared to do
something,   not  to  expect  mystical  illumination,  not  to  expect
spiritual  experience which is beyond us, but to do those things which
are within our reach.

Zaccheus  promised  to put all his life right. Are we prepared to face
our  life  under  the  judgement  of  God,  put  it  right, accept the
humiliation  that  will  lead  us to humility, accept to recognise the
smallness  of our spiritual, intellectual, emotional and other stature
and  take  advantage  of the help which is offered us by the wisdom of
centuries  which  have led millions of people into the Kingdom of God?
Amen.


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