Sunday, 27 October 2013

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Icon"The Pharisee and the Tax Collector", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Today's Gospel is one of my favourites -- the story of the Pharisee and Publican (tax collector) who went up to the temple to pray.

This is such a powerful story told by Our Lord. So, even though I am pretty sure I have used this icon previously, I wanted to use it again just so that I could say a few words about what this story (and the drawing) mean to me.

First of all, let me comment on the "icon".  This is, obviously, not a traditional icon as it includes the Scripture passage written across the drawing itself.  Rather, this is a drawing I did after looking at a number of different drawings and icons portraying this story from St. Luke's Gospel.  I felt that this was the only way that I could portray this incident and do it justice.

Now, as to why I am so drawn to this story.  It's because it was this story that enabled me, by God's grace, to finally begin to really understand that I am always a sinner in need of God's mercy and forgiveness.  Apart from Him, I have nothing, I can do nothing, I am nothing.

For many years during my journey with the Lord, I kept having a lot of trouble with the idea that I was a sinner.  I mean I knew I committed sins -- these were the things I repented of when I went to Confession -- but, deep down, I really thought of myself as better than a lot of people because I was not committing any of those grave or serious sins that I so often saw others committing.  My sins, for the most part, I considered to be not too serious and, therefore, I assumed that God must be pretty pleased with me!

I really was too much like the Pharisee in what I thought about myself and my relationship to God and others.  It took a profound moment of grace for God to finally let me see just how much of a sinner I really am.  In that moment, I saw all the pride, the arrogance, the self-love, the envy, the jealousy and other vices that actually resided in my inmost being.  I remember being so overwhelmed by my unworthiness before the goodness of God that all I could do was cry out, just like the tax collector, "Lord, have mercy on me a sinner."

Sadly, I find that it is an ongoing struggle for me to remember each day that I am a sinner in need of mercy.  What was the original sin that caused the fall of humankind?  The desire to "be like God".  I find that only by taking the words of the tax collector deeply into my heart can I remember, daily, that I, too, like all the rest of mankind, am a sinner in need of mercy.

So often the so-called "Jesus Prayer" comes to my mind.  It is based largely on this passage and goes:  "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."  In the eastern Churches, especially among those in religious life, you find people who pray this prayer over and over again until it finally settles into their hearts and their very breathing repeats these words throughout the day and even when they are sleeping.  

"But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!'"  Luke 18:13



Do you recall my telling you about my artist friend, Rose Marie?  I have posted notices of art shows she was participating in previously in my blog.  As well, I have posted some of her paintings.  You may recall her painting of an Arbutus tree of which I am so fond. It has been sold as well as the more recent painting shown below.

Anyway, Rose Marie and other art instructors from Beaux Arts Brampton are having an art show starting today and running until November 2, 2013.  If you live in the Greater Toronto Area and are thinking about taking an art course, then this would be a great opportunity to see the actual work of the instructor before signing up.  I have found over the years that we often sense a kindred spirit when observing the output of any creative person.

If you are interested, go to and get the details.  

Poster for an art show in which my art instructor friend is participating.  
It starts today, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013

My friend with a painting of hers that recently won an award -- before being sold!



Suki pauses mid-bath in order to look closely
at my wiggling finger!  I was using my wiggly
finger to try to get her to look up!
Suki has had a very difficult week!

When Joycelyn arrived on Monday morning of this past week, I informed her that I had decided that the living room furniture needed to be re-arranged so that certain items could be moved from the bedroom into the living room area.  The reason behind this decision was simply that the bedroom was too crowded and it was beginning to really bother me.

So, after some discussion about the best place to put everything, we begin the process.  Suki was, fortunately, resting in her crow's nest bed at this point so she, bed and all, only had to be moved slightly during the re-arranging.  However, it was easy to see that she was rather upset and unsure about what exactly was happening.

After a few hours, Joycelyn and I had everything in place and had just sat down for a moment to admire our handiwork.  At this point, I heard Suki give a mournful meow and I said to Joycelyn: "Oh, no, here comes trouble!"

Indeed, here came Suki -- more distressed than ever -- sniffing, looking, meowing and then sniffing, looking and meowing some more! 

The meowing continued, along with the sniffing, as she got up on and off of each piece of furniture.  I knew that it was going to be difficult for her to accept so many changes at once so, after a few minutes, I picked her up, put her in my lap and begin to scratch her chin in the way she loves.  I talked softly to her about what had happened as I continued to scratch her chin and her ears.  Slowly, she begin to settle down a bit, beginning to purr in spite of herself.

After a while, though, I knew that she needed to continue her investigation and so I encouraged her to get up and start sniffing and looking again.  She did so, but this time she did not appear to be quite so frantic and, thankfully, there were no more mournful meows.  

A couple of hours passed before Suki was able to settle down once again and rest.  She had not asked for food for quite a while so I knew that she must still be rather upset.  It wasn't until about supper time that she seemed to start behaving a bit more normally.  She was hungry and finally asked to be fed.  

After eating, she was able to settle down in one of her favourite living room chairs, give herself a good after-dinner bath and begin her evening napping.  The TV was now in the living room so I stayed there as well watching a couple of programs.  Every so often Suki awoke and checked to see if I was still nearby.  When she saw that I was, she closed her eyes again and went back to sleep.

Thankfully, by bedtime, Suki seemed almost back to normal.  Since the bedroom was relatively unchanged (except for the removal of the TV and the recliner), she was able to settle into her usual bedtime routine and in no time at all, we were both sound asleep.  

The following morning found Suki still a bit agitated and spending a lot of extra time checking out the location of various pieces of furniture. Gradually, as the day progressed, she seemed to forget about the changes and by late in the day, she appeared to be almost back to normal.  This conclusion, however, proved to be untrue.  

Instead, this process repeated itself each day for about the next 3 or 4 days.  She begin each morning appearing rather agitated and concerned about the changes in her environment, but, as the day passed, she would settle down again.  

Finally, on Friday morning, I noticed that she simply went about her usual business without any extra sniffing or meowing or such behaviours.  This has been true of the past two mornings as well so, at last, it seems that she has accepted the changes and is comfortable in her home once again.  Truly, cat do not like for things in their world to be changed!   

As for me, there is, once again, very little news to report.

I did have a doctor's appointment this past week, but it was just to discuss possible changes in my regular medication and to get new prescriptions for those that had run out of repeats.

There may be an issue brewing, but I am still uncertain as to whether it is actually a problem or if it is simply my own fear acting as a self-fulfilling prophecy!  Let me explain...

I think my sleep attacks may be becoming less well controlled once again.  This thought is frightening and rather distressing so I am trying to tell myself that it is just my imagination -- or that perhaps I haven't been sleeping as well lately and so that is all that is really going on.  However, since I did find that the first medication I tried worked well for a while, but then became ineffective, I guess I have a legitimate reason to be concerned that possibly the same thing could be happening again.

Only time will tell.  Meanwhile, I am trying not to let myself worry. I am also being extra cautious about standing without holding onto something when I am feeling tired.  And, if I feel extremely sleepy all of a sudden, I am trying to make myself just go and sit down and wait until the feeling passes before continuing with my regular activities.

I have an appointment with the sleep specialist at St. Mike's coming up in November some time.  I will be able to discuss my concerns with him at that time if the problems persist.  Meanwhile, I would ask for your prayers that I may stay safe, not have any bad falls and, most of all, trust God to take care of me no matter what happens!

Let us pray that we may all learn to trust in the Providence of God. This will truly enable us to know that peace which passes human understanding.

Pax vobis

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Poor Suki
I hope you have a great Halloween