Today while I was standing in prayer at Liturgy, we were praying Psalm 50: "Have mercy on me O God..." and we got to the part of "Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop and I shall be clean. Thou shalt wash me and I shall be made whiter than snow. Thou shalt make me to hear joy and gladness; the bones that be humbled, they shall rejoice..." That part in particular just stood out to me.
I'm the type of person that sometimes forgets that even after all my striving, and all my prayers, and all my efforts, that it is GOD who does the washing. It is GOD who does the cleansing, the healing. And that He actually will. That this is not an unrequited hope or love on my part.
And it's really talking about theosis here. That whiter than snow bit reminds me of Jesus revealing himself as he truly is on Mt. Tabor (Mt. 17:2) "And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light."
"Thou shalt wash me and I shall be made whiter than snow."
See the connection? This is God's will for us. And He will do it. Not me doing it to myself. I need to learn this. It was like that still small voice whispering in my heart: "Don't you trust ME to do this in you?"
And yet, there is this synergy of repentance and humility.
Today is the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee. (Luke 18:10-14) As we begin our three week preparation for Lent.
"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 thee 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!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted." (RSV)
And here's the challenge. I think for most of us who have been raised Christian, or been so for a long time, perhaps, it is very difficult to be so aware of our sins. But in a thousand little ways, they still dominate our existence. I'm so blind and full of pride. I'm confessing it here publicly. I guess I can say, "Lord I'm like the pharisee, have mercy on me a sinner!" thus becoming in that prayer like the publican.