I’ve often wondered if this arrogant Pharisee in today's gospel story today (Luke 7:36-50) is the same Pharisee we read about in Luke 18:9-14. In today's story, he is so obsessed with his own image, his own
self-importance, that he is blinded to the real condition of his soul. Remember his prayer in the Temple? It went something like this: “God, I thank you that I am not like that tax collector. Look at me: I tithe and I fast. Aren’t I great?”
Now look at our Pharisee today in Luke 7. You can just about hear him saying to himself: “Doesn’t Jesus know what a great sinner that woman is? And I thought he was a prophet! Why doesn't he tell her to get out, since she gate
crashed the party uninvited. I’m sure glad I’m not going to be embarrassed like Jesus, when he finds out. Good Lord, look at that: he's even letting her touch him!”
In both cases, the Pharisee thinks he is already perfect, and therefore thinks he doesn’t need to be forgiven for anything. He had already judged both the tax collector and the woman “who was a sinner” to be unworthy of God’s
favour. That was apparently one of the Pharisee’s bigger sins; he was judging people even after they had humbled themselves before God. Not only did he lack the courtesy of normal hospitality for guests like Jesus, but he failed to
see the link between a repentant heart (love for the one offended) and forgiveness. The woman was forgiven because her external actions (tears, washing feet) revealed her love for the one she had offended with her sins
(God). The Pharisee couldn't even offer normal courtesies to Jesus (anointing a guest’s feet), which revealed an uncaring, unforgiving heart.
We need to be careful about “pointing fingers” at others! In the Lord’s Prayer we beg God to forgive us, but only “as we forgive those...” others who need our love and mercy. Our need may even be greater: We’re All sinners and are deprived of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).
KNOW YOUR CATECHISM!
Articles 588; 26716; and 364 of the CCC state that since sin is universal, those who pretend not to need salvation are blind to themselves. They remind us that Jesus always responds to a prayer for healing and forgiveness when that prayer is a prayer offered in faith St. Augustine wonderfully summarizes the three dimensions of Jesus' prayer: "He prays for us as our priest, prays in us as our Head, and is prayed to by us as our God. Therefore, being Mindful of Christ's words to his apostles: "He who hears you, hears me, (CCC 84), let us respond to our voice in him and his in