I am subscriber to Father Burke Masters daily videos on the scripture readings for each day. I often hear him say, “Comparing leads to despairing.” I have always placed that in the context of comparing my faith journey to that of one of my brothers and sisters in Christ. I am reminded often that “Jesus wants to encounter us where we are at and take us farther.” It is important to avoid comparisons because, while we are all pilgrims together, our journey is uniquely our own.
Today’s Gospel reading, is a reminder that “Comparing leads to despairing” in, potentially, a different context. Comparing can lead to the sin of pride; it can lead to arrogance. We see in today’s passage a righteous pharisee who, convinced of his own holiness, looks in condemnation and judgement towards the sinful tax collector. Woe to the Pharisee! Woe to us when we do the same!
I am not sure there is more arrogant form of prayer then “O’ God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity – greedy, dishonest, adulterous – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income”. Blind Pharisee! He sees the holiness of his fasting and tithing, but is blind to the sinfulness of his own pride and arrogance. We, like the pharisee, are blind when we do the same.
The reality of it is we are sinners, all of us. We may have holy moments along the way and we should, humbly, celebrate those with our Lord. However, those holy moments are made possible through the grace of the Holy Spirit. Let us constantly ask for those graces in our daily lives. We must never forget, however, that we are sinners in need of God’s mercy.
“Comparing leads to despairing” – That happens when our focus is on others instead of on Christ!
“Comparing leads to despairing.” – That happens when we fail to look at others through the merciful eyes of Christ!