Unprofitable Servants

Prayer with Peripheral Vision

By Fr. Gregory, February 19, 2021

Translation from Word Biblical Commentary: 9 With this parable he addressed as well certain people who were confident in themselves, because they were righteous, and despised all others. 10 “Two people went up to the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus about himself, ‘I thank you God that I am not like the rest of humankind: robbers, evildoers, adulterers; or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I tithe all that I acquire.’ 13 The tax collector stood far off and would not even raise his eyes to heaven. Instead he beat his breast saying, ‘God be merciful to me, a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, this one, rather than the other, went down to his house upright in the sight of God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Rabbi Nehunia used to pray: “I give thanks to Thee, O Lord my God, that Thou hast set my portion with those who sit in the Beth ha-Midrash (House of learning) and Thou hast not set my portion with those who sit in (street) corners, for I rise early and they rise early, but I rise early for words of Torah and they rise early for frivolous talk; I labour and they labour, but I labour and receive a reward and they labour and do not receive a reward; I run and they run, but I run to the life of the future world and they run to the pit of destruction.”

Luke 11:42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.

James 4:6 Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”

Phil 2.3: Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.

Prov 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling.

Luke 17:10: So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’”

Phil 3 4 Though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If any other man thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law a Pharisee, 6 as to zeal a persecutor of the church, as to righteousness under the law blameless.

Gal 2 15 We ourselves, who are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners Matt 15: 7 You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy about you, by saying: 8 ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me. 9 And in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” 10 After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, “Hear and understand!11 It is not what enters the mouth that defiles the person, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles the person.”

St Cyril of Alexandria: Although therefore you fast with puffed up mind, your so doing will not avail you: your labour will be unrewarded; for you have mingled dung with your perfume.

St. Cyril of Alexandria: What profit is there in fasting twice in the week if it serves only as a pretext for ignorance and vanity and makes you proud, haughty and selfish? You tithe your possessions and boast about it. In another way, you provoke God’s anger by condemning and accusing other people because of this. You are puffed up, although not crowned by the divine decree for righteousness. On the contrary, you heap praises on yourself. He says, “I am not as the rest of humankind.” Moderate yourself, O Pharisee. Put a door and lock on your tongue. You speak to God who knows all things. Wait for the decree of the judge. No one who is skilled in wrestling ever crowns himself. No one also receives the crown from himself but waits for the summons of the referee…. Lower your pride, because arrogance is accursed and hated by God. It is foreign to the mind that fears God. Christ even said, “Do not judge, and you shall not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.” One of his disciples also said, “There is one lawgiver and judge. Why then do you judge your neighbor?” No one who is in good health ridicules one who is sick for being laid up and bedridden. He is rather afraid, for perhaps he may become the victim of similar sufferings. A person in battle, because another has fallen, does not praise himself for having escaped from misfortune. The weakness of others is not a suitable subject for praise for those who are in health. COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 120.5

St. Augustine: How useful and necessary a medicine is repentance! People who remember that they are only human will readily understand this. It is written, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” … The Pharisee was not rejoicing so much in his own clean bill of health as in comparing it with the diseases of others. He came to the doctor. It would have been more worthwhile to inform him by confession of the things that were wrong with himself instead of keeping his wounds secret and having the nerve to crow over the scars of others. It is not surprising that the tax collector went away cured, since he had not been ashamed of showing where he felt pain. SERMON 351.1.8

Fr. Epiphanios Theodoropoulos: “I pray to see my own sins”

St. John Chrysostom: “It is more of a miracle to see my owns sins than to see an angel.”

St. Gregory Palamas: Because anybody who thinks he is something great, even before God, is rightly abandoned by God, as one who thinks that he does not need His help. Anybody who despises himself, on the other hand, and relies on mercy from above, wins God’s sympathy, help and grace. As it says, “The Lord resists the proud: but he gives grace unto the humble” (Prov. 3:34 LXX).