In this video, Archbishop Christophoros from Jordan talks about contemporary self-confidence and humility starting from the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican. Let us see here how genuine humility is correlated with self-confidence and what is the Christian way of life that attracted so many from outside the Christian community.
This is a sermon recorded in February 2019, in the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee (beginning of the Lenten Triodion) by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese – Amman – Jordan.
English translation by Waad Rabahie
Video source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese – Amman – Jordan
Archbishop Christophoros Attallah:
Blessed is the Christian who realizes that he or she is nothing! Only when you realize that you are nothing, through humility, you can understand the verse of the Bible which Christ said: “without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
And what happens then is that you empty yourself and Christ becomes everything for you. Christ will become everything.
It’s noticeable that we worry a lot, we get saddened and troubled a lot, but after the hard days pass, after our sicknesses and hardships pass, we look back and wonder: “Why did we make this much of a drama of it? It wasn’t worthy.” Why, my children? Because Christ is not occupying all of us, He is occupying only a part of us. While His commandment is clear: “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37) Our Lord wants the entirety of us, not just a part. If just a part… then you can’t meet Him. He wants us fully. His commandment is clear. His first commandment which He wrote with His finger on the two stone tablets which were given to Moses in the Old Testament: “you shall love the Lord you God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Deuteronomy 6:5)
So my children… It’s very important for the human to reach a certainty that he or she is nothing. This nothingness is spiritual and not psychological. We should be aware of this.
Because if it’s seen from a psychological view, some people would ask: “How, then, can I have self-confidence?” Of course you should have self-confidence… The more you feel you are nothing the more you will be confident in yourself… in truth. Because your humility will lead you to self-confidence.
Most of people and even us have fake self-confidence, earthly and prideful self-confidence. We don’t have spiritual self-confidence, that’s why we become cowards in many stages… We become cowards during trials, hardships and distress, this means we don’t have self-confidence, but a confidence of another type which is prideful and earthly confidence, which the society gives us.
For example, some people have confidence that they drive a good car. Others feel sad for themselves for not having a car, they don’t have confidence in themselves. Some people have confidence when they open Facebook and find 200 likes: “Wow”, they think to themselves, “I’m an important person!” Emptiness… loss… disaster… such things became our indicators of self-confidence.
Do you see what a tragic and catastrophic situation we are in? Very far from Christ, from the Church and from spirituality. This is not self-confidence. This is pride and weakness, weak personality and cowardice.
The Lord says: “I forgave this publican, he went down justified, rather than the other”, rather than the Pharisee. Here we see the judgment of the Lord, the Savior, concerning these two situations.
Today we are in front of two situations and a judgment. In front of two situations which people looked at in a certain way, but in the eyes of God they were seen differently.
In the eyes of people, they thought the judgment of God would be in a certain way. But the judgment of God was different to what people thought.
The Church and the Holy Fathers of the Church tell us how we – Orthodox Christians, children of the Church – should be in our life. And through the chants of the Church which were read and heard in the Matins today, the Church asks us to not pray as the Pharisee but as the Publican, meaning our prayer should not be as the one of the Pharisee but as the one of the Publican… So, my children, let’s pray as the Publican, that is to realize we are nothing and in this way we get closer to God and to our neighbor and to ourselves.
Our relationship with others is very important, and here we see many flaws…
If we look at the Christians of today and make a comparison… If we go back 18 or 19 centuries, we read in books and notice that what distinguished (characterized) Christians was their love to one another.
The pagans used to envy Christians for two things, which were the reason for huge numbers of pagans to join Christianity. Those two things were love and joy. They saw how Christians always loved one another and were always joyful.
So pagans wondered, “What is with those Christians?! With all the persecution on them and all the distress, they still love one another and are joyful.”
However, nowadays, after 20 centuries, let’s look at our situation. Let’s measure the love… not in the bigger communities, but measure it inside our own Christian houses and see the tragic situation. Inside the same house people don’t love one another, siblings don’t love one another other and don’t talk to one another. The wife doesn’t talk to her mother in law and the mother in law doesn’t
talk to her daughter in law… etc. We are in Babylon.
Speaking about joy… look at the faces of Christians, how frowned and depressed they look.
So we realize that we are in a crisis and we need to solve it. The church gives us the solution which is this prayer today’s gospel teaches us. It teaches us how to pray and how to meet with God with
ourselves and with our neighbor.
My children, I wish you a blessed time, a blessed and graceful Triodion period!