Setting Things Aright

by Melanie on February 23, 2016

in Catholicism, Cursillo, Friendship, Life in the 50s, Memoir, Nonfiction, Spirituality, Your Daily Tripod

Note: On Tuesdays and some Sundays, you can find me at Your Daily Tripod, owned by my friend TonyD. A longer version of the post below appears there.

About ten years ago, I went to a penance service with a good friend. We cracked wise and giggled a bit during the goings-on, but grew quieter and quieter in line as we drew nearer to the priest, someone we both knew.

“I told him I feel like a Pharisee,” she shared later, just before we parted ways for the evening. “He told me I tripod_pharisees_wikimediapublicdomain021516was no Pharisee, that I was a good person.”

I didn’t probe; after all, it was her confession to share or not share. But I was definitely in the priest’s camp; everything I knew of her was Christlike. And yet… these days, I get her point, and share her concern about my own intentions.

Here’s the thing: We can do all the right stuff: check off every single one of those corporal and spiritual works of mercy publicly each and every day. We can be regarded as living saints for our sacrifices. And yet… if we do it all to be seen, we are no better than the Pharisees. If we set ourselves up as paragons of virtue that people find it impossible to conceive of emulating, we are no better than the Pharisees. If we do it all, and judge those who aren’t carrying their burdens the way we have, do, or would, we are no better than the Pharisees.

In short, we can be good people on the outside, and still not only feel like Pharisees, but also be Pharisees. May we have the insight and strength to discern those instances where we are headed down that path… and set things aright.

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