Finding Pharisees in the Catholic life


In Matthew 23:23-26, Jesus gave the Pharisees a double whammy of a criticism; one of superficial faith and the other of internal emptiness. In all fairness, the Pharisees weren’t the worst people in the world. They had faith, they had principles, and they had religion. Compared to most of the pagans they were solid citizens. But the Jesus of the Beatitudes, and the Cross, wants much more from us than minimal compliance.

He wants the fullness of our Love.

On the negative side, the Pharisees are charged by Divine Mercy with hypocrisy, injustice, selfishness, extortion, and intemperance. I propose that in every life, to include the Catholic life, there is a double whammy of a Pharisee ready to be criticized.

Since the stereotypical Pharisee points fingers, I will start by pointing a finger at myself. I am a hypocrite. My private sins are hidden in my public piety. My injustices are swept under the rug of my personal achievements. I extort attention and companionship through the force of self-pity. And let’s not even get into my intemperance.

Is there anyone out there completely different than this?

Now I get to do what every stereotypical Pharisee loves to do. How many Catholics are there that brag about life success, parish participation, and sacramental and devotional piety, but still find a way to vote for Pro-Choice politicians? Isn’t that the poster child for the hypocrite? How many Catholics extort guilt from their spouses and children through the sin of un-forgiveness? How many Catholics are there who are in positions of power and influence, who reject Catholic candidates for vocations and jobs based on past sins, who, themselves, practice present acts of intemperance?

Jeez! Calm down you say.

I say, let the inner Pharisee in me practice simultaneous repentance and prophetic pronouncement. It is only Just that I repent for the many terrible sins I have committed as a Pharisee. Yet, it is also my duty as a child of God, and all Pharisees are children of God, to ‘wax’ prophetic!

No need to point fingers at me. By the grace of God I’ve got that covered. I’m working on the beam in my own eye! But may God have mercy on my soul if I fail to point out the splinter in my brethren’s eye.

Especially if that splinter is hurting the poor in others just like me.

God bless!

P.S., Please forgive me if, at times, my grammar and punctuation isn’t perfect. I am my own editor. An editor that is type ‘A,’ and, therefore, a hard charging, highly caffeinated, go getter who pushes ‘publish’ with the over-eagerness of a child.

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