“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’” (Lk 18: 10-13)
Tonight in our churches we will be hearing the very long, “Great” Canon of St. Andrew of Crete. It contains many, many words: beautiful lamentations, biblical references, theological insights, and so on. It can be hard for us, with our present-day short attention-spans, to “follow” every word of this Canon. But the refrain to the Canon, repeated throughout the service, is easy to follow: “Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.” It reminds me of the simple prayer of the tax-collector in the parable quoted above, which we read in our churches at the very beginning of the Lenten season.
Let me keep things simple today, and open my heart to God’s mercy. I give up and surrender to Him, approaching Him with nothing, in my lack of understanding and everything else. Because God has, where I lack. “Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.”