Two men walked into church this morning. The first was a well-known and well-liked person. Everyone in the community knew he was a good guy. He always had great answers for everyone’s questions, and he really seemed like one of those people who had it all together.
The second person was a convicted pedophile. Everyone knew about him as well. They knew that he was a registered sex offender, a drunk who sometimes beat his wife and kids, and an all around foul man.
Both of these men walked up to the altar of the church.
The first man peered over at the second and looked up to Heaven and said in his heart, “God, thank you that I am not like that man. I am not a pedophile, I don’t get drunk, I don’t beat my wife and kids, and I don’t lose my temper and start screaming obscenities.”
The second man fell to his knees. Tears ran down his face and he whispered, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” He was so overwhelmed with grief that he could not even look up toward Heaven. Instead he bowed his head as round after round of tears shook his body.
I tell you the truth, only one man left the church justified before God that day, and it wasn’t the first man. All who humble themselves will be exalted, and all who exalt themselves will be humbled (Luke 18:9-14).
Tears are a gift
To be able to mourn for our sins is a gift from God. The Church Fathers referred to this as the second baptism, which they taught is even more important than the first baptism. This past Sunday was called Repentance Sunday in the Orthodox Church. It is the Sunday in which we are taught to be like the second man in the parable of Jesus which I revised above.
May we humble ourselves before God so that he can heal us and lift us up.