2013.02.24 Sermon by Father Jonah
路加福音 Luke 18:10-1
他 對上帝說：「感恩上帝，讓我變得如此優秀，不像其他人那樣。」我們應該自問：我的祈禱是怎樣的祈禱呢？我真的在向上帝祈禱，還是，我只是在做某一種冥想， 而這種冥想和上帝一點關係也沒有？或者，我們把自己和上帝搞混了，事實上，福音中所說的那個人只是在對自己祈禱。他如何祈禱呢？他雖然身在教會，卻遠離人 群、獨自一人祈禱。為什麼我這樣說？因為他所想的不是上帝，而是自己。我想，這是一種最大的欺騙，也就是自我欺騙。自我欺騙是戲弄上帝的行為，對上帝完全 不尊重。
我們要常常提醒自己，來教會的時候，應該注意自己的態度。教會不只屬於上帝，也屬於所有弟兄姊妹。教會是我們聚在一起領受聖餐（耶穌基督聖體）的地方，也是我們合一的地方。在聖禮儀中，神父把聖靈賜給我們各位。St Basil的禮儀文本上更強調了這一點：「我們共同參與了耶穌基督的聖體與聖血，讓我們合而為一。」 我們應該懷著這樣的態度來教會。有時候，我在教會遇到陌生的面孔，我會帶著疑惑詢問對方：「請問您是不是一位東正教徒？您來教會領聖餐嗎？」對方有時候回 答我：「我是巴西東正教徒。」從這樣的回答就可以聽出，這個人不是純正的東正教徒，他在信仰中添油加醋，他在欺瞞上帝，他已經偏離了教會。我們只有一個教 會，也就是宗徒所傳下來的大公教會，僅此而已。
「法 利賽人」這個名詞乍聽之下好像離我們很遠，其實不然，有可能我們自己就是「法利賽人」。它代表了一種態度，一種做事的方法和祈禱的方式。讓我們好好想一 想，我們的祈禱常常為了自己，還是為了別人？我們有沒有為其他弟兄姊妹祈禱？事實上，如果沒有其他人的存在，就不會有我們自己。我們把上帝的律法當作一種 法律嗎？我們應該明白，上帝給我們的，不是一種法律。上帝說：「只要有人遵守我的誡命，我與父就會來到他身邊，與他共同生活。」上帝的誡命並不像刑法或是 任何國家的法律那樣，例如：只要違規停車，就要罰款。上帝的律法與上帝的存在息息相關。上帝本身就蘊藏在祂的律法之中。如果我們遵守律法，就會成為上帝的 帳篷、上帝的屋舍。上帝的律法充滿了存在性（existential）。它是一種生活方式，而不是一種監視，計算誰又犯了多少錯。有時候，人們因為錯誤的理解而濫用上帝的律法。福音中描述的這位法利賽人在祈禱中對上帝說：「神啊，我感謝你，我不像別人勒索、不義、姦淫，也不像稅吏那樣是個罪人。」他把自己與其他人分開，他覺得自己最優秀。
成 為東正教徒是一件困難的事。很不幸的是，我們常常把東正教徒的身分和政治身份、社會身份或其他身份混淆在一起。法利賽人有一個特質，就是不愛說謊。福音中 這位法利賽人說：「我一個禮拜禁食兩次，凡我所得的都捐上十分之一。」我們知道，他每週必定有禁食兩次，也必定有捐出所得的十分之一。這些都不是困難的事 情，因為他很富裕。然而，他做事的態度，並不是上帝教導我們的態度。在教會裡，許多人也是如此。我問他們：「你們為什麼不來教會？」他們回答：「我家就有 聖像和蠟燭。我在家裡就可以祈禱，為什麼要來教會？那對我一點用也沒有。」兩個月前，我去一個很遠的地方，有一位懷孕的婦女邀請我去她的家中舉行聖禮儀。 她是俄羅斯人。除了她之外，還有其他五、六位俄羅斯人是她的鄰居，都住在同一棟大樓裡。她告訴他們：「來我家吧！神父在這裡。」那些人說：「不了，為什麼 我要去？」有一天，有一位俄羅斯人來到教會，向我詢問有沒有蠟燭。當時我不在場，Pelagia在 場。這位俄羅斯人說「我是東正教徒」，但是他從來沒有參加聖禮儀。我認為他並不是真正的東正教徒，他只是崇拜聖像而已。或許對他來說，我應該穿著俄羅斯足 球隊服，而不是這身祭司服。因為，我在進行聖禮儀的時候，他總是坐在隔壁的咖啡廳喝咖啡。另一位婦女不斷邀約他過來參加聖禮儀，他就是不肯。
現 在教會已經不再遵守古代教會的律法，因為時代的變遷，如果沿用過去的律法，教會將會面臨許多問題。教會的律法說，如果你連續四個星期日沒有來教會，也沒有 提出特殊的理由（例如：身體不適），就等同於被逐出教會。有許多人就住在教會旁邊，甚至住在同一個社區內，他們也沒有來教會。或許，對他們來說，教會就像 是政黨一樣，只是某種思想體系。這是一種自欺欺人的想法。讀了今天的福音之後，我們或許會說：「喔，法利賽人好驕傲。」但是，為什麼他很驕傲？因為他的整 個信仰系統都是錯誤的。他並沒有真正相信上帝就是三位一體，他相信的是他老舊的、病態的信念，事實上那是一種反社會的信念，因為它代表了孤立。教會教導我 們，我們應該與所有弟兄姊妹在一起，接受、包容每個人的缺點：嬰兒哭鬧時、有人犯錯時……還有其他令人難以接受的事情，我們都應該以包容的心態來接納。這 就是教會，教會就是耶穌基督的身體。
惡 魔給我們一個很大的試探，他慫恿我們去創造一個「自我孤立的宗教」。許多人告訴我他們在禁食，也會自己祈禱。教父曾經告訴我們，魔鬼什麼東西也不吃，他們 每日都在禁食，但是，他們是魔鬼。如果你完全不懂祈禱文的意義，只是在念誦一些好像有神奇魔力的文字，這樣的祈禱不是真正的祈禱，也不是向上帝祈禱，而是 向自己祈禱。偉大聖徒的祈禱，是超越語言的，如果我們真正懂得，會發現自己有多麼渺小。就像用眼睛凝視太陽，它的光明令我們無法直視。即使我們是善良的 人，我們還是會覺得，和太陽比起來自己有多麼渺小，萬事萬物好像都不及太陽偉大。
今 日，我們可以看見許多人就像法利賽人一樣。他們拿著蠟燭、聖像、十字架在自己的家中祈禱，卻不願意來到教會。他們並不是真正的東正教徒。許多人說：「為什 麼要去教會？我有犯了什麼重罪嗎？」上帝並不會檢視我們身上的罪，而是檢視我們身上的愛。上帝要我們愛人如己，這就是基督宗教的真正精神。這個法利賽人的 言談，完全沒有提到「愛」。他完全不懂「愛」，他用各種法律教條建構了他的宗教。我們必須知道，沒有愛的世界就是地獄。正教徒、新教徒、佛教徒…等，都只 是名稱而已，如果沒有真正的實踐，就無法領受上帝的祝福。
福 音中還說到，那稅吏遠遠的站著，連舉目望天也不敢，只捶著胸說：「神啊，開恩可憐我這個罪人。」他說話時，音調十分高亢。他不害怕丟臉，也不怕人聽見。他 一邊說一邊哭，甚至不敢抬頭往上看，他沒有為自己找任何藉口。我們告解的時候，常常為自己找理由。例如，人們常常說：「因為我先生或太太做了某件事情，所 以我才會這樣做…」或許下次我應該回答他們：「是嗎？那麼你是無辜的，你應該請你的先生或太太來告解才對。因為，你沒有犯任何錯，不需要上帝的寬恕。」充 滿藉口的告解，並不是真正的告解。這位稅吏沒有為自己找任何藉口，或許，他可以為自己辯解：「我之所以成為稅吏，是因為我很窮困，我年輕的時候染上壞習 慣，這一切都是不得已的。」他在上帝面前不僅沒有辯解，還不斷祈求上帝的仁慈，要上帝憐憫每個人。他唯一的要求，就是希望上帝賜給他希望。在台灣，許多新 教徒認為，他們在受洗的時後就等於是得救了。有一次，我教導他們聖經希臘文時，我告訴他們，我不確定自己會不會進入天國，我覺得自己不配進入天國，他們聽 到之後非常震驚，說：「你是神父，怎麼可能不會進入天國？」對他們來說，這是無法理解的，因為，他們認為人生的最終目的就是要進入天國。然而，對正教徒來 說，人生的最終目的是要「愛上帝，與上帝同在」，而不是要去任何地方。我認為，不正確而自私的靈修態度，會衍生出許多心理上、社會上的問題。單就家庭生活 來說，抱持不正確的靈修態度的人，能夠真正愛自己的家嗎？他們如何對待自己的妻兒？我想，他們並不會關心妻兒真正的需求，只關心自己的社會地位。他們利用 妻兒來提昇自己的形象，他們以為這就是愛。然而，這不是真正的愛。當妻兒的行為不適當時，他們就會惱羞成怒，說：「喔，你們真是讓我丟臉。」他們不關心孩 子是否變壞，只關心自己的形象有沒有變壞。這樣的作為會摧毀他們的未來和人格。生活就像是一面大鏡子，反射出每個人心中崇拜的偶像，有些人只崇拜自己創造 的偶像。
讓 我們回到福音的內容。我們不該只是說，這位法利賽人是一位自我中心的、驕傲的人。我們應該瞭解他驕傲的原因。許多人在告解時，告訴我他們覺得自己很驕傲。 通常這些人都不是真正的自私或驕傲。和別人比較之後，才會產生驕傲。我們不應該拿自己和別人比較，不過，我們可以好好反省，自己心中的愛和謙卑，是否和聖 徒的一樣多？自己對上帝的奉獻，是否和聖徒的一樣多？這就是為什麼正教會充滿了聖像畫。聖像畫不僅僅是一扇通往天堂之窗，它們也是神學的著作，給予我們許 多神學教導。聖像畫也給了我們許多模範。看到身邊的這些聖像畫，有聖徒、男人、女人、孩子，我們可以說：「喔，他們就是我，我就是他們。我應該怎麼做才能 更像他們？我欠缺了什麼？我應該加強什麼？」常常拿自己與聖徒比較、與聖經中的人物比較，可以幫助我們瞭解上帝對我們的期望。
在 此，我想要做個總結。福音中描述的法利賽人創造了自己的宗教。許多人說自己是東正教徒，但是他們不願意來教會。他們在自己的家中拿著蠟燭、對著聖像祈禱。 他們的行為與這位法利賽人相同。他們欺騙了自己，也欺騙了上帝。我們應該提醒自己，成為一位真正的東正教徒，真正的上帝的子民，就要真正成為教會的一份 子。
Today, the parable is the famous parable of Jesus Christ about the tax collector and the Pharisee. First of all, imagine that you see a Pharisee who comes in the middle of the church. The gospel says he was talking to himself. He was thinking that he was talking to God, but actually he was not talking to God, he was talking to himself, praising himself.
And this is a very, very important thing for us, because he was saying, “God, thank you because I’m so good, I’m not like the others. And, you know, it is very important to understand what kind of prayer do we have: do we really pray to God or do we do some kind of, let’s say, meditation which has nothing to do with prayer? Or do we mix with God. And actually the only God that he knew was himself. And this is why he was thinking that he prays to God, but actually he was praying to himself. And how was he praying? In isolation, isolated from the others. Yes in the middle of the church but you can be isolated from the others. Why? Because he is based not on what God wants, but on what he has and what he’s doing. And this is the ultimate cheating: nobody’s cheating us; we’re cheating ourselves. And cheating ourselves is ridiculing God, not having any respect for him.
And remember many times, the attitude that we have when we come to the church. Do we come to church because it is the place of God and the place of our brothers? It is not only the place of God, we must understand this. It is the place that we altogether make the Eucharist, and we altogether receive the body of Jesus Christ. We become one. And in the liturgy the priest says send the Holy Spirit upon us, first, and in the liturgy of St Basil it’s actually more strong. It says, “Make us one, those who participate in this body and blood of Jesus Christ.” Do we come with this attitude? I am really, many times confused when I see people and I say to them, “Oh, and you are Orthodox to receive the Holy Communion?” And he says, “Yes, I’m Brazilian Orthodox.” Oh, he is a flavor; he is not a simple Orthodox; he is more, he is a flavor of Orthodoxy and he does not know that he is mocking God and he is already split from the Orthodox Church because there are no flavors of Orthodoxy. It’s only the one catholic and apostolic church, nothing else.
So when we hear about the Pharisee, don’t think that it’s so far away; it’s so close, maybe it’s me. It is the attitude, the way we do, and what we do when we pray. Do we pray in isolation, or do we pray with our brother. Because we don’t exist without our brother. And do we use the law of God as a ‘law’? Because God did not give ‘law’. God said, “He who keeps my commandments, me and my Father will come and live with him. God did not give law like the criminal law or the law of any country, where if you park illegally you will pay money. The law of God is existential. God is hiding behind his commandments. And when we obey him, the result is to become his tent, to become his house. So the commandments of God are something very existential. They are a way of life, and they’re not something you can count. And this person misused and took advantage of the commandments of God, as many people actually do. He said first and at once to separate and isolate himself from the others. He says, “Thank you God because I’m not like the others, especially this tax collector here, who is a sinner.”
You can see, that to be an Orthodox Christian, it’s not so simple; it’s a very difficult thing. And unfortunately many times we mix this with a political identity or with a social identity, or something else. Because, you know, from one point of view the Pharisee did not lie. When he says, “I fast two times a week,” this was true, he was fasting. When he was saying, “I give one tenth of what I have to the Temple,” this was true, he was giving the money. It was easy for him, he was rich. And so it was a fact. But the attitude he was doing these things with was not the attitude of God. He was doing this, as many people say to me today, and I’m so surprised. I say, “Why you don’t come to the church?” They say, “I have my icons in my house, the candles. Why to come to the church? It’s useless.” About two months ago I went to a place far away and I did the Liturgy for a woman who was pregnant. I did the Liturgy in her house. She was from Russia and there were also about five or six other Russians living in the next apartment of the same building. She said to them, “Come, the priest is here.” They said, “No, why to come?” And one day somebody came here to the church and he was asking for candles. I was not in, Pelagia was here. He did not care for the Liturgy. But he said, “I’m Orthodox.” He just believes in idols, he’s not Orthodox. Or if he thinks he’s a Russian, maybe he thinks I should be wearing the Russian football team colors and not these robes. Because I was doing liturgy and he was in the next room drinking his coffee. The woman was begging him to come and he would not come.
It is very difficult and very easy to make the church an iconology and to make the Church a self-worshipping. Jesus did not come to create individuals here; He created the Church, and the Church is His body. And he who does not belong to the Church and does not participate in the sacraments, is not a member of the Church
The ancient canons of the Church, which we do not keep now because if we keep now of course the consequences are very terrible. They say that if for four Sundays you do not participate in the Church – without reason, perhaps you are sick – you are excommunicated from the Church. But we have many people who live in this very building and they don’t come. And they think of course I’m Orthodox. He thinks that Orthodoxy is like a political party, just an ideology. It is not. And this is cheating. And when we misunderstand the Gospel today, we say, “Oh the Pharisee was proud.” But why was he proud? Because all his belief system had failed, it was wrong. He did not believe in the God of the Holy Trinity, he believed in his old sick ideas, actually anti-social ideas, because this means isolation. The Church is to be with your brothers, and to accept the weakness of your brothers: the babies who cry, the other who is very bad, the other who is not rich and he just floats, the other who is very rich and he is so…, different things. This is the Church; this is the body of Jesus Christ.
So to create ‘individual religion’ is a very big temptation, and the work of the Devil today – and I speak for the Orthodox. Once more I say, how many people say unto me, “I am fasting.” And the Fathers of the Church say, “Of course you are fasting; the Devil actually did not eat anything, but he is the Devil. “And I read my prayers.” So what? You are just reading magic spells if you don’t really understand, and if you don’t really pray, because then you are praying to yourself. If you see the saints, they learn alone??? That they are good. If you read the ???, a very beautiful book, he says, “I am a sinner.” His disciples say to him, “But Father, how are you a sinner, you do miracles.” He could not answer. But he believed it, and he was not alive??? And some other very spiritual monks said that the Father means that he’s so close to God he understands how easy?? is the love of God, how unspeakable. And if we see this, we understand how small we are. There is a difference between looking at the sun now, I can gaze at the sun, and being in a spaceship very close to the sun. Then I will see how huge is the sun. And I will see, even if I am good, how small, how nothing I am compareｄ to the sun.
So you see, the saints, they don’t have anything to say like “I do miracles.” But they do, this is a fact. “I have visions of God.” Yes, they have. But they never use this, they say, “I am a sinner.” When the great Evasasois ??? died, he was lying down to die, and he called his disciples, there were thousands of monks since he was the father of the monks at Mount Athos. He started crying and they said to him, “Father, why do you cry?” He said, “Because I am a sinner and I do not know if God will send me to Paradise. I deserve the Hell.” And they say, “You, who have done such good things, such great things. “Evansasois said, “I don’t know if I did any good thing.” And then he put his hands out and said, “Oh!”and the room began to become full of light; the angels came and he said, “Oh saints!” And then the room became full of light. He said, “Jesus Christ.” (He saw Jesus.) “Take my soul.” And he died.
So from one point of view, we see the people today represented by the Pharisee, with their candles and their icons and their big crosses in their houses not coming to the church. Yes they ‘are Orthodox’ because they have books and they pray. They are cheating God and they are cheating themselves. And many people say, “Why come to the church? Did I kill anybody?” God does not examine us to see if we killed anybody, but if we have love. And we should ask, “Did you love anybody?” But if you didn’t kill somebody, do we need some prize? Is society so bad that the common thing is to kill and if you don’t kill we say, “Oh, you don’t kill, thank you, here is a prize.” What is this?” God told us to love the others, to love the others like ourselves, and this is Christianity. The Pharisee does not speak at all about love because he does not know what is love. And so when somebody says, “Why to confess? I’m a good person, I did not kill anybody.” God will not say to you, “Oh, you did not kill anybody, thanks, you are so good.” God will say to you, “Did you love anybody? Can you love?” The Pharisee will say, “I do not care about love.” And this is the hell.
So we must very strongly think and understand the way of the Pharisee, that he is not loving anybody. He does not speak about love, he made religion into a set of rules. If you say Orthodox or Protestant or Buddhist, these are names. So this is why he did not receive anything. He did not receive the blessing of God. I have people here in Taipei who come only every Easter. Or when I go to Hong Kong once a year and they happen to come that week, they say, “Every time I come you are not here.” And they think they are Orthodox. They don’t know that they are very heretic.
And the other man, the tax collector, he was a sinner. He went to the temple and he was in the back, crying and beating his chest. He did not even dare to look up.
But he spoke aloud; he did not feel like, “I will lose face.” He confessed his sins; the others they were listening and he said what, “Thank you God, I’m so rich”? No, he said, “God, forgive me the sin.” What else can we say to God? What else? And you know, he did not even dare to gaze up. And he was crying. He had not any excuse. It’s very important because, you see, well many times we go to confess, and we say, “Because my husband did that, I did this…” It’s like a self-conversation with excuses, so it’s a mistake of your husband’s or your wife’s; it’s not your mistake. Maybe I should say, “You are very innocent. Go and say to your husband to come and confess.” You say, “But you will not read me the forgiveness.” “But you don’t need forgiveness. Everything you do is right and you have excuses.” Because this woman did not really repent; she was full of excuses. We see this person, the tax collector, he has not any excuse. Of course he could have some excuses, like “I was poor and I when I was young I had bad habits and now I have become a tax collector.” And, you know, everybody can have excuses, right? But he did not use any excuse. He, in front of God, was begging only for mercy, not from self-justification. And for all of us, to have mercy, and to accept, and to pray to God to have mercy on us, and to have hope only, only hope. I see here in Taiwan so many Protestants who think that because they are baptized they are automatically saved. Once I was teaching some of them the language of the Bible, and when I said that actually I don’t know if I will go to Paradise; actually I don’t deserve it (and I really believe it). They were shocked and they said, “You are a priest and you don’t go to Paradise.” Of course I don’t deserve to go to Paradise; I’m not a good person. The others were shocked because they think that the purpose of life is to go to Paradise. But the purpose of life is to love God and to be with God, not to go anywhere. And, you know, this sick and problematic and selfish spirituality can create also many other problems, psychological problems, social problems because this person who has this attitude, how will he have love in his house? How will he behave to his wife and to his kids? He will behave like he behaves to God. He will go home and he will say, “Here I am, and you must give me face, you must not do anything to make my social status lower. How many times do we see this, right? Parents who don’t really care for their kids; they use their kids to enhance their social status. And they think that this is love. They think that they love the kids. And when the kids are doing something bad, they say, “Oh you gave me ????” They don’t care that what the kid did bad is bad for the kid; it will destroy his future, his personality. It’s just a big mirror where somebody is mirroring his own idol; and he’s worshipping his own idol.
So it’s important to understand that it’s not so simple that the Pharisee is an egoist, he is a proud person. But why is he proud? And this comparison with the others, there are people who come to me to confess and they say, “I’m proud.” I say, “How do you know that you’re proud?” Actually many people who say they are proud are not proud; they have no self-esteem. Because why should we be proud, to compare ourselves with others. It means that something is missing in me and I need to have a proof. We think, “If you have this then I have it.” So I compare. But we should not compare ourselves with the others; we should compare ourselves with the saints to see, do I have the same love, do I have the same humility, do I have the same devotion to God. This is why the Orthodox church is full of icons. It’s not just that the icons bring here windows to heaven, like these windows we have here to the mind??. But also they’re books of theology; they are books of teaching. They give us examples: when we see next to us saints, men women, kids, we say, “Oh they’re like me. I’m like him. What am I missing; what should I improve?” So it is very important, once more, to compare ourselves with the saints, to compare ourselves with the Bible, what God is expecting from me
So, once more, I want to say to you and to close today. The Pharisee created his own religion. And because I see here many people who say, “I’m Orthodox, but I don’t come to the church because I have candles and I have icons and I pray in my house.” They do exactly what the Pharisee does, and they cheat themselves. They cheat God, of course. So remember all these things. To be Orthodox and to be a person of God, is to be a member, an active member of the Church.
May the Holy Trinity protect all of us. Amen.