“Try not to get so worked up tato; you know it’s not good for your blood pressure!”
“You don’t understand Irynochko, no one knows that I hurt my back. They’ll think I’m lazy—they’ll think I’m a useless old man!”
“Tatu, don’t worry; everyone thinks you’re a superman, the way you keep the house and sidewalks clean at your age.”
“Yes, and they call that young guy across the street a lazy good-for-nothing because he never shovels his walk. He must be a renter. Thank God I own my home and keep it respectable. They shouldn’t allow renters in the neighbourhood!”
That night the house across the street had all the lights on. Ihor and his daughter, who was visiting from out of town for the weekend, watched an ambulance quietly back out of the driveway before the property fell into darkness again.
“That’s odd tatu, but no emergency sirens, so “Mr Lazy” doesn’t seem to be in trouble. I’ll go to bed early because I’ll have a long drive home tomorrow. Snow is forecast for the night and Sunday traffic can be heavy.” ❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️
In the morning the thick blowing snow obscured even the view from the windows.
“Irynochko, you know that I can’t go to church since COVID; find the service on the computer, won’t you, I can’t ever do it right.”
“Of course tatu! I’ll watch the Liturgy with you and drive out just after lunch.”
As the service began, a loud rattling startled Iryna and her father. Grabbing her coat Iryna went outside to investigate . . .
“Wait Irynochko, it’s the Gospel reading—the parable of the publican and the pharisee.”
Once the Liturgy ended, Iryna explained the racket outdoors.
“I met the young man across the street tatu. He is using his snow blower to clear his property and the neighbours’ too. He’s working on your driveway now. For the pandemic, he had been taking care of his mum, who has dementia. He’s been staying with her during covid outbreaks and hardly had a chance to come to his own place. Anyway, finally he has arranged for her to come live with him. He has a new snowblower that he loves to use and is happy to clear the sidewalk in the area!”
The Publican and the Pharisee
Of course, we’re not Pharisees—bragging about our good behaviour! Nor are we the “sinners” that the Pharisee describes. Who are we?
Do I ever see myself as “better” than my neighbour? Do I ever condemn others without knowing anything about them? Do I ever say one thing and do another? Do I do “good” things so others will praise me?
This parable reminds us that our Christian commitment is not to adhere to a rule book, but rather to adhere to Christ’s commandment of love for ourselves and each other. “Be merciful to me, a sinner.” God’s mercy is always with us, but we only feel it when we admit to our weaknesses. We can accept God’s mercy and share it with others. When we accept our weaknesses we can understand the failings of others. Each day we can recalibrate our course towards living our life more generously. Thank God for that!