Posted by: Fr Chris | February 16, 2014

What other Faith has anything like this?

Glory to Jesus Christ!

Once again, a gap – and once again, a bunch of physical problems. So, now I have recovered from the annual February infections that I get – this year, no ICU or ER visit, thanks to the surgeries I had last year in my lungs! So, progress despite getting sick.

And now to work. Today is the Sunday of the Prodigal Son. We already have had the Publican and Pharisee. The Byzantine Tradition leads the soul into self-reflection, desire for change, and then movement to making those changes, all to prep for Great Lent. the biggest of the four penance seasons of our Church’s year.

Here what I put in the bulletin for the Pharisee and Publican:

Father Lev Gillet says to us:

Do we have the right to condemn the Pharisee and to consider ourselves more righteous than him if, first of all, we break the commandments that the Pharisee observes? Have we the right to place ourselves – in contrast to the Pharisee – on the same level as the justified publican? We cannot do that unless our attitude exactly the same as that of the publican … If we ostentatiously condemn the Pharisee without becoming like the publican, we fall into Phariseeism itself.                    -Year of Grace of the Lord, p. 111.

 So, while eating the meat, we do well to ask ourselves all week, just how much do I recognize my sinfulness, weakness, and dependency on God? The publican was a tax collector for the Romans, hated by his own people and derided as a thief. But because of his recognition of his sinfulness, God not only is pleased, but exalts him! 

And for today:


  (go to  – You can get this and other icons as posters or cards)

    This contemporary Greek icon has some hidden messages in it. The background is simply that, background. Many icon-writers have a horror vacui , a fear of empty spaces. But the first hidden message lies in the staging of the two protagonists: the repentant son, and the all-loving father. The second message is that of what the son is wearing: he is shown in plain brown clothing, colors of emptiness, of the desert wastes. Next, notice that he inclines his head forward, as is proper for the lesser to greet the greater.

The father’s image is especially fascinating. First, he is shown in action: his robes are literally flying behind him because he has rushed to greet this son who wasted everything but has returned. Second, the father is shown as a venerable man, white-haired and bearded. This emphasizes the pain he suffered in waiting, and in having been rejected by the young man: how could a young man have so insulted an elderly father like that? And if there is a question as to how much love there is on the part of the father, see how the two faces blend together, in absolute tenderness. Also, the full positioning of the faces tells us that the sinful son has been redeemed.

But the real message is in my last observation: the iconographer depicted the father wearing the divine colors of red and blue. He stands for God the Father, the Source of all life, the One Who Is for all time, with the white hair and beard of the Ancient of Days seen by St Daniel the Prophet in his vision. The iconographer does not want us to have any misconceptions at all – the sinner who can bring nothing to this scene except his besmirched soul and his sorrow, is being acknowledged, embraced, and forgiven, by a God Who rushes to love us. A God Who rushes to us when we make that first repentant step toward Him again. What other faith offers anything like this?


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