The Publican and the Pharisee
All of creation is pregnant with potential - less full of lifeless atoms or particles than of seeds just waiting to be brought forth into fruition. And here I speak not just of literal seeds (although it is almost time to start working with those and getting them ready for transfer into the garden come Spring), but of everything. All of creation is ready to grow, made that way by its Maker, just waiting for our attention - the attention of its stewards - to bring it from possibility into realization. When sown by stewards of pure heart and understanding, these seeds will be nurtured into beauty, offering the best possible fruit, [and] manifesting the glory of God in very tangible ways. When sown by stewards of ill will, apathetic spirit, or twisted rationality, these seeds will grow into something much less savory, twisted testimonies to pride and carelessness. Think of these examples:
- The relationship of the newly wedded couple contains so much potential. It is a very pregnant seed. Will they be good stewards of that seed, nurturing it into a marriage that will be a blessing to themselves, their families, and their communities? Or will they warp it with the waters of their own pride, forcing it to grow into a noxious and bitter weed with reeking flowers that foul the air and harm all those who rub against it? The seed could grow either way - it is up to them; their decision.
- Starting even earlier, take the example of the literal seed within the womb. There is so much potential there. What will it become? A child of light or a spreader of darkness? Or, like a quarter of such perfect seeds, will it be sacrificed to the false gods of irresponsibility and liberation long before it sees the light of day?
- Take the first interaction between strangers - will this potential relationship manifest itself as an application of love and friendship, or as a selfish transaction between a hustler and his mark? Or will the potential remain just that as the two strangers remain just that - strangers - and the possibility for the incarnation of perfection through their friendship remains unrealized.
Perhaps these are too abstract - we are not used to thinking about relationships in these terms. Americans tend to be more practical - so let us turn to the building blocks of this society: money and time. Each dollar within our wallets, our purses, and our accounts is a seed. It has such potential to change lives - will it grow into a beautiful fruit that feeds and heals, or a stunted sacrifice designed to slate our selfish addictions for a moment longer. It has such great potential - what kind of stewards will we be?
And what will we do with our time? Every moment is so pregnant - what will it become? How will it be redeemed? In idleness or action? In prayer or prelest? As an offering to love or selfishness? Today we have a great lesson in the use of time - will we work the time in a way that brings us into closer union with perfection, or will we work it in a way that moves us only deeper into our own delusion?
Today we have a lesson from the Creator Himself describing this very dynamic.
- The Pharisee. He was praying. How could he go wrong? He had tended his garden so well... but then poisoned it with his pride.
- The Publican. He was praying, too. No matter what a mess he had made with all the previous potentialities, in this moment - he was pure. And God moved within that seed and it became like that mustard seed - growing to crowd out all that had been grown before.
The seed of perfection is within us all, ready to manifest itself through every moment and action of our lives. But we can pervert with our willfulness and pride. Instead, let us take this seed and water it with our tears of repentance and thankfulness - and nourish it with the love that desires the works towards the unity and perfection of all.