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The initial grace of the publican – Metropolitan of Strumica Naum


(Luke 18, 9-14)

Firstly, the energy of the mind is purified through constant mental, spiritual, and physical ascetic labour (struggle, endeavour) in the fulfilment of God’s commandments. The light from the sufficiently purified energy of the mind is given to us for one reason, only for perception of our own captivity by the passions, sinfulness and separation from God.

The main feature, which shapes the profile of people like the Pharisee, is the use of the knowledge, which remains after sufficient purification of the energy of the mind, to judge and condemn our fellow men (neighbours).

Today we are simply burdened with gossip, judgment and condemnation (conviction). It is one thing to say that someone is stealing, and it is another to say that he is a thief – in the first instance he is just being judged, and in the second he is already being convicted. It is one thing to judge and condemn in general, and another thing is to judge and condemn a specific person by name. The Pharisee commits the bigger sin.

We must realize, for once, that the knowledge received from the first light (initial grace) is not suited for the perception of other people’s sins, it does not have such power or penetration or property. Therefore, if the thought of judgement comes to you, pray immediately.

Noticing the passions in others is a certain sign that the same passions live in us, and it is not a sign that they really exist in the person that we judge.


Secondly, the overall endeavour at the stage of purification of the heart from the passions, the Holy Fathers described as ascetic – we do not feel like it, but we are continuously forcing ourselves; we do not have an open support from the grace, and we live as if we (do) have it.

In the publican (tax collector), on the other hand, we see repentance in action and we have the feeling that he does what he does naturally – under the influence of the first grace: “he was standing afar off”, “he would not raise his eyes”, “he was beating his chest, saying: “God, be merciful to me a sinner!”” (Luke 18, 13-14) - We see in him an example of taking the “last (least) place.”

And thirdly, it is important to remember that “He who exalts himself shall be humbled; and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:14). That is the eternal message of the gospel about “The Publican and the Pharisee” (Luke 18, 9-14) – for whoever wants to hear …

Because there are those who do not want to listen; the ones who exalt themselves above their Bishop, above the Holy Synod, and even above the Whole Holy Universal (Catholic) Church – without having inner cover, without the gift of enlightenment of the prayer of the mind in the heart.

I think … We may as well accept that (tribulations caused by the ones who exalt themselves above their Bishops and do not listen), it could be a little interesting; we should also have the conditions to practice humility and love. Simply, it is not good for them.

Most-Holy Bogorodica (Birth-Giver-of-God), save us!

 Metropolitan of Strumica Naum

 (20.02.2021 16:58)

Photo by: Fr. Gavril Galev

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