One of my favourite childhood stories is “Snow White and the seven dwarfs.” In this story, the queen has a famous saying that is often repeated when she looks into a mirror and arrogantly ask: “Mirror, mirror! Is there anyone else who is more beautiful than me?” Obviously the queen is full of pride. She thinks she is the best.
Is it something similar to the Pharisees and scribes? Like the queen, they consider themselves as the best and therefor others should look at them with admiration and praise. Pride pushes them to seek fame. It blinds their understanding and blocks their love and compassion to others. Pride is the highest form of self-love and is directly opposed to submission to God and others. It is kind of virus that destroys human dignity. Anger, indignation, arrogance, the spirit of contradiction and haughtiness are some of its offspring.
Jesus has some harsh criticism to make of the scribes and Pharisees. He calls them hypocrites for their deeds do not match their words. The Gospel is the record of wrong things they have done and how their deeds badly affect the life of others. Thomas Merton once said: “Many religious people are not saints because they never succeed in being themselves.” The only medicine for pride is humility. It empowers and energizes us to great works as St Francis de Sales says: “the proud man who trusts in himself has good reason not to attempt anything. The humble man is all the more courageous because he recognizes his own impotence. The less he esteems himself, the more daring he becomes because he places his whole trust in God.”
Fr Do Nguyen