After reading our Gospel for this weekend I thought to myself, what priest wouldn’t welcome a congregation full of upstanding and pious parishioners like the Pharisee in today’s Gospel. After all, despite his self-centeredness, this man had an impressive list of religious credentials. If there were more people like this Pharisee who took their faith this seriously, our world would be a better place wouldn’t it ?
So while the criticized Pharisee in today’s parable is an easy enough target, the truth of the matter is that we would love to have this person, and many more like him, in our midst.
What then is the problem with this man ? It appears that while the good works he was performing were laudable, he lacked the correct interior disposition. The mysterious truth, that the Pharisee was doing God’s work, as though it depended on him, and not God. Could it be that we too might be performing our religious duties motivated by our own self-aggrandizement, whist not acknowledging that all we have, and do, is in fact a gift from God.
The tax collector on the other hand, despite his easily recognized flaws, knew his need of Gods mercy.
Here then we have a central platform of our faith – namely our ability to make an honest assessment of our weaknesses and along with this the further recognition that, without God, we are nothing at all.
How humbling – but how true.