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The Week of the Publican and the Pharisee: Seeking First the Kingdom of Heaven

Holy Scripture

Matt. 6:25-34 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.”—Matt. 6:33

The Fathers/Holy Tradition

“’Seek ye, first of all, the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.’ We simply forget all this—so busy are we, so immersed in our daily preoccupations—and because we forget, we fail. And through this forgetfulness, failure, and sin, our life becomes ‘old’ again—petty, dark and ultimately meaningless—a meaningless journey toward a meaningless end... Indeed, we live as if He never came.” —Fr. Alexander Schmemann

Let us receive with joy, O faithful, the divinely inspired announcement of Lent. Like Ninevites of old, like harlots and publicans who heard John preaching repentance through abstinence, let us prepare for the Master’s communion performed in Zion. Let us wash ourselves with tears for its divine purification. Let us pray to behold the fulfillment of Pascha, the true Revelation. Let us prepare for adoring the Cross and Resurrection of Christ our God! Do not deprive us of our expectation, O Lover of Man! —Cheese-Fare Week, Tuesday Vespers, Apostika


What would you say is the message of these verses from Vespers of Cheese-Fare week?

Lent in macro

  • Lent gives us the opportunity to truly seek the Kingdom of Heaven and the life in Christ is that Kingdom. Lent is a season devoted to repentance, metanoia, a return to our first love, a renewal of our Baptism to return us to the victorious life in Christ.
  • Lent has often been termed, “the spiritual hospital.”
  • In Lent, more than at any other time of the year, we truly strive to “put aside all earthly cares” to focus all our attention and energies, our bodies and our souls, on the Kingdom. And this Kingdom is revealed to us in the revelation of Jesus Christ’s triumph over sin and death on the cross and through His glorious resurrection.
  • We too can share in this journey to Christ’s Passion by which death is conquered and we are restored to true life.

The Beginning

Zacchaeus Sunday—Desiring the Kingdom above all else. Sinful as he is, a tax collector and swindler, Zacchaeus, the sinner, seeks to ‘see’ Christ. His desire for the Kingdom overcomes his selfishness, his deceitfulness. He is repentant—he is open to metanoia. And it attracts Christ’s attention. Christ comes to his home and all is changed!


  1. What are you seeking? What is your destination?
  2. How determined are you to arrive at your destination, the Pascha of the Lord, a changed person?
  3. If there are impediments in your life, in your thinking, in your faith that are keeping you from seeking FIRST Christ’s Kingdom, Christ Himself, then what steps are you willing to take to remove those obstacles?