Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s readings clearly highlighted the need for all of us to have a good and proper way of prayer and living our faith, namely one that is not tainted with our personal and human desires, hubris and sins of our heart. The Pharisee prayed not with the wholeness of his heart, mind and soul, and his being is not entirely focused on the Lord as he prayed, which is truly not the way for us to communicate with our Lord and God.
For prayer is indeed a communication between us and the Lord, and it is important that in prayers, we talk with the Lord from our heart to His heart, but we must also be able to listen, and therefore we may listen to the words of the Lord speaking in our hearts. The Pharisee was engaged in a litany of self-praise and self-aggrandisment, and not only just praising his own goodness, as he also looked down on others and thinking of others as being not as good as himself. This is what we must not do.
We are all sinners, brethren, like that of the tax collector, or the publican. And he knew the full weight of his sins before him, and that was why he was so repentant and felt so unworthy before the Lord. He did not put down others, and he certainly did not boast about his achievements, but rather, he allowed God to work His wonders in him, by opening his heart, mind and soul wide open for the Lord to bring light back into his darkened self.
And the Lord had given us much to build up on during this life we have on earth. Why is this so? Because God had given us the spirit of life and that is why we are living now in this world. However, we who have believed in the Lord and have given ourselves to be baptised in the Most Holy Name of the Most Holy Trinity also received in us the gifts of the Holy Spirit, just as the disciples of Christ had received that day on the occasion of Pentecost.
The Holy Spirit, as we all know have seven cardinal features and seven types of fruits that can be born out of the Spirit in us. And the Holy Spirit also gives us various abilities and endowments, all according to our needs and to the will of the Lord in giving us those gifts and blessings. But there are those among men who claim to be able to get all the numerous gifts of the Spirit, without understanding what they are truly about.
Yes, I am talking about those common practices of ‘speaking in tongues’ practiced often by our heretical and unrepentant brethren in the so-called Evangelical and Pentecostal tradition of the Protestant ‘churches’, who often go so far as to make the practice of tongue-speaking as the mainstream of their worship. They pronounced babbling sounds as if they are speaking in tongues, mimicking the speeches of the Apostles, but this is in vain. In fact, they do not proclaim and praise the Lord in doing that, but instead invoking Satan to be present among them to tempt them.
The way to serve the Lord is not through this method, as when we do that, we have to remember the action of the Pharisee and the publican or the tax collector in their respective prayers. What is the intention of speaking in tongues? This is a dangerous practice that if done without understanding, and it is also already prevalent even among certain sections of the Church, that this will lead the faithful not towards the Lord, but towards the self-aggrandisement of the Pharisee.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, I am also talking about those who in the Church, are claiming to represent the will of certain peoples, claiming that they are fighting for equality among different groups, some representing the women and some the laity as a whole themselves. Let me ask you this question, brothers and sisters in Christ, why did the Lord created us men and women in the first place? And why was there the division between the priesthood and the laity in the Church?
The answer to the first question is clear, as we are intended by the Lord to complement each other. Women were born from men, and without men, women are incomplete, and so therefore, men are incomplete without women. That is why, we can never have any equality in literal sense between the males and females in our society and in our Church, because each of us, man and woman are born with a particular purpose in life, and we have been given the specific gift, much like that of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Then regarding the priesthood and the laity, it is also similar. Those who are in the laity are those who choose to have an ordinary life, following the routines of this world that is to have a family and beget children for the love and glory of God, and those in the priesthood dedicated their whole life in devoted service both to God, their Lord, Master and Bride, as well as to the whole mankind.
We cannot stand for this kind of irresponsible movements and notions, and they are tantamount to challenging the Holy Spirit and God Himself, as if they are asking for the wholeness of the gifts that God had given mankind, which is a sign of hubris and human pride, which had once made Satan fall from his place of honour and glory, and which will also bring about our downfall if we are not careful.
Let us all reflect on this, and let us all lay down our pride, our arrogance, our human desire for fame, greatness and glory. Let us instead be like the tax collector, opening our hearts wholly and sincerely to the Lord, so that He may speak to us in the depth and in the silence of our hearts. Let us all build a culture of prayer, and not just any prayer, but prayer deeply rooted in our faith and in our desire to love both mankind and the Lord our God beyond all other things.
May Almighty God bless us and our endeavours, and strengthen the faith within us that we may all be examples for the world, becoming beacons of light in the darkness. Amen.