NEW PROJECT: Parish Activities Center and Capital Campaign. See Sharing tab on the menu or click here.
Read more

The God who loves all

By:

At the time of Jesus, the Pharisee was a son of Israel who took the Law seriously. Aware of the temptation of religious impurity, the Pharisee lived a life devoted to the Law, fulfilling the Law with even more intensity than required. We might say that the Pharisee approached the Law with evangelical zeal, with an intensity that the average Israelite might almost never be able to realize.

The problem with the Pharisees was not their zeal, the seriousness with which they took the Law. Jesus himself was a rather serious fellow, cautioning us that it’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than to inherit the kingdom of God (cf. Mt 19:24). He doubled down on the impossibility of divorce because the separation of husband and wife was contrary to the original vocation of man and woman in Genesis. Jesus drew lines in the sand.

With the woman caught in adultery, he literally drew a line in the sand.

The Gospel of Luke implies that the problem with the Pharisees is that in their zeal, they considered themselves to be among the exclusively religious successful. Unlike that tax collector, the one who sold out Israel to Rome, the Pharisee is the righteous one. He’s not akin to the rest of humanity. He has separated himself from the hoi polloi.

The tax collector, on the other hand, recognizes his lack. He does not seek to separate himself from the rest of humanity. He’s a sinner. He does not approach God directly but with humility, with eyes lowered. He longs for the mercy of God.

Now, here’s the irony. In hearing this, you might say to yourself, “Thank God I’m not the Pharisee! That despicable man, who is afraid of God’s mercy.”

You see, the problem with the Pharisee isn’t that he’s serious. It’s not that he’s rigorous, attentive to the Law. The problem is that he has forgotten that the vocation of Israel is to welcome all humanity to adore the living God. All nations will be called to the holy mountain, to worship the living God. Not because any nation has earned it! Salvation is always pure gift, not the result of human ingenuity.

But that problem is not an exclusive dilemma of the historical Pharisee or the present-day rigorist. The problem is with those who draw boundaries, imagining that they have earned salvation. My group, the in-group, is the only ones who are worthy.

“Look at those Latin-Mass goers! How dare they find consolation in the liturgy before the Second Vatican Council! What is wrong with them? They don’t care about divine mercy, about the hungry or thirsty. They care only about their own private religious lives.”

“Or those who sing along with hymns by David Haas! They probably reduce the Gospel to a bunch of social principles. You know who is at fault for secularization? It’s them!”

You could imagine both groups proudly proclaiming, “At least, I am not among these.”

So, we must ask ourselves, “Who is the Pharisee?” Today, it’s not the rigorist or the reformist, per se.

We must recognize that it is all those who try to limit salvation to their in-group, whoever that in-group might be.

After all, it’s not the Latin-Mass goers or the singers of Haas alone who will be saved. It’s the entire human family called to adore at the Eucharistic altar, discovering the God who loves unto the end.

Who is the Pharisee?

The danger of Christian life is that it may not be any of “them” out there.

It could be me.

This article comes to you from OSV Newsweekly (Our Sunday Visitor) courtesy of your parish or diocese.

 

Catholic News & Perspective

Provides information on the Church, the nation and the world from OSV, America's most popular and trusted national Catholic news source


Recent

Opening the Word: The Great Conflagration

Friday, November 15, 2019
By: Timothy P. O'Malley Over the last few years, we’ve looked closely at God’s mercy. In this column itself, it has been noted that in... Read More

Finding grace in the midst of outrage

Wednesday, November 13, 2019
By: Dr. Greg Popcak I have a confession to make. This column has been a tough one for me to write. I joked with my editor that I have been so angry... Read More

Should Joe Biden have been denied Communion?

Monday, November 11, 2019
By: Msgr. Owen F. Campion The recent report that a priest in the Diocese of Charleston, South Carolina, refused holy Communion to former Vice... Read More

Opening the Word: The redemption of death

Friday, November 8, 2019
By: Timothy P. O'Malley Those who attend a Catholic college or university often take courses in the history of the Bible. The student discovers... Read More

What fruits will the ‘Idol Synod’ bear? Time will tell

Wednesday, November 6, 2019
By: Christopher Altieri History is funny in the holdovers it keeps from its first draft — journalism — and in those it discards.... Read More

There’s been a lot of talk about priestly celibacy, but what does it mean?

Monday, November 4, 2019
By: Msgr. Owen F. Campion Throughout much of October, Pope Francis presided at a meeting of bishops from the Amazon River basin in South America,... Read More

The God who loves all

Friday, November 1, 2019
By: Timothy P. O'Malley At the time of Jesus, the Pharisee was a son of Israel who took the Law seriously. Aware of the temptation of religious... Read More

Safe injection sites fail the medical ethics ‘sniff test’

Wednesday, October 30, 2019
When a federal judge ruled Oct. 2 that Philadelphia’s proposed safe injection site would not violate current law, the court overlooked a few... Read More

When is silence not golden?

Monday, October 28, 2019
By: Teresa Tomeo We all can use more silence in our lives. We live in a culture bombarded by all kinds of noise and distractions. I should know. My... Read More

Opening the Word: Who is the Pharisee?

Friday, October 25, 2019
By:  Timothy P. O'Malley At the time of Jesus, the Pharisee was a son of Israel who toook the Law seriously.  Aware of the temptation of... Read More

Online Giving

Online Giving

Secure and Convenient Donate now!