Christ the Savior-Holy Spirit Orthodox Church
Archpriest Steven C. Kostoff
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Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee

From Legacy Icons, 14th c., Serbian
From Legacy Icons, 14th c., Serbian
From Legacy Icons, 14th c., Serbian

The Publican and the Pharisee
The Publican and the Pharisee
The Publican and the Pharisee

Warming Up for Great Lent II:
Humility Based on Reality
From the OCA Website:

The Sunday after the Sunday of Zacchaeus is devoted to the Publican and the Pharisee. At Vespers the night before, the TRIODION (the liturgical book used in the services of Great Lent) begins.

Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee who scrupulously observed the requirements of religion: he prayed, fasted, and contributed money to the Temple. These are very good things, and should be imitated by anyone who loves God. We who may not fulfill these requirements as well as the Pharisee did should not feel entitled to criticize him for being faithful. His sin was in looking down on the Publican and feeling justified because of his external religious observances.

The second man was a Publican, a tax-collector who was despised by the people. He, however, displayed humility, and this humility justified him before God (Luke 18:14).

The lesson to be learned is that we possess neither the Pharisee's religious piety, nor the Publican's repentance, through which we can be saved. We are called to see ourselves as we really are in the light of Christ's teaching, asking Him to be merciful to us, deliver us from sin, and to lead us on the path of salvation.

Continue reading about the Pre-Lenten Sundays on the OCA Website...




Let us flee from the boasting of the Pharisee
and learn through our own sighs of sorrow
the humility of the Publican.
Let us cry out to the Savior,
"Have mercy on us,
for through You alone are we reconciled."


The Church Fathers on the Publican and the Pharisee

Brief Insights into the Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee
Collected by MYSTAGOGY Blog

- Proverbs 27:2

Let a neighbor praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger and not your own lips.

- Sayings of the Desert Fathers

An old man much given to simplicity questioned Father Ammonas: “Three thoughts occupy me, either, should I wander in the deserts, or should I go to a foreign land where no one knows me, or should I shut myself up in a cell without opening the door to anyone, eating only every second day?” Father Ammonas replied, “It is not right for you to do any of these three things. Rather, sit in your cell and eat a little every day, keeping the word of the publican always in your heart, and you may be saved."

- Sayings of the Desert Fathers

Mother Syncletiki said: “Imitate the Publican and you will not be condemned with the Pharisee. Choose the meekness of Moses and you will find your heart which is a rock changed into a spring of water."


- Elder Ambrose of Optina

Repentance and humility are more important and higher than all of the other virtues, continuing until the end of our life. Referring to the words of the Prophet David, Saint John Climacus writes, “I did not fast, I did not keep vigil, I did not sleep on the bare earth, but I humbled myself and the Lord saved me.”

- Saint John of Kronstadt

When the foolish thought of counting up any of your good works enters into your head, immediately correct your fault and rather count up your sins, your continual and innumerable offenses against the All-Merciful and Righteous Master, and you will find that their number is as the sand of the sea, whilst your virtues in comparison with them are as nothing.

- Saint Peter of Damascus

If repentance is too much for you, and you sin out of habit even when you do not want to, show humility like the publican; this is enough to ensure your salvation.

Visit the MYSTAGOGY Triodion Resource Page for more from the Church Fathers on the Publican and the Pharisee, and the entire Pre-Lenten period...

Triodion Hymns for the Publican and the Pharisee


Saturday Evening Vespers

Tone 1
Brothers, let us not pray like the Pharisee: He who exalts himself will be humbled! Let us prepare to abase ourselves by fasting; Let us cry aloud with the voice of the Publican: O God, forgive us sinners!

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

The Pharisee went up to the temple with a proud and empty heart; The Publican bowed himself in repentance. They both stood before you, O Master: The one, through boasting, lost his reward, But the other, with tears and sighs, won your blessing: Strengthen me, O Christ our God, as I weep in Your presence, Since You are the lover of mankind!

Now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Tone 8
I know the value of tears, almighty Lord: They delivered Hezekiah from the gates of death, And rescued the harlot from repeated sins. Tears justified the Publican instead of the Pharisee: I pray You, Lord: number me with the former, and have mercy on me!