The Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee has ever been a cornerstone of Orthodox spirituality. But as the Desert Fathers remind us, it has eschatological significance as well.
In Late Antique Christian monasticism, there existed an interplay between scriptural exegesis and the mystagogy of prayer. Reading the Bible through the lens of asceticism, the monks looked for keys to understanding their spiritual practices. There are numerous biblical passages that deal directly with prayer, such as Jesus’ directive to ‘go into your closet to pray,’ which is generally interpreted in ascetical literature as entering into the heart when praying. But other passages are more subtle, such as Luke 18: ‘The Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee.’ And yet this parable greatly influenced the way in which monks have understood prayer. (more…)