Sunday, April 10, 2011

Recognizing the Pharisee Within

I've been thinking so much about how we behave as Catholic Christians.  How do we appear to people who may be looking at us as representatives of the Catholic Church?   

As I have spent the last four years studying the Bible (which is a very short time to study the Bible), I have sometimes seen glimpses of myself in the Pharisees who were attacking Jesus and eventually had him killed.   I brought this up with my fellow students at school.  I asked them if they thought they would recognize Jesus if he were to arrive today.  One other woman expressed doubt that she would recognize Jesus, that she is so focused on adherence to the law (as were the Pharisees), that if Jesus were to deviate in any way from what we expect (as he did when he came the first time), she would not be able to see him.  I expressed the same concern about myself.  

There was one woman in my group who is absolutely sure that she would recognize Christ, and was equally sure all of our group would.  I asked her why she is so sure.  She said that we spend a lot of time studying the Bible, so that means that we would know.  

I tried to remind her that the Pharisees knew the scripture backward and forward.  They knew all of the laws and adhered to them without deviation.  Jesus did not fit into their idea of what the Messiah should look like.  They were terribly threatened by Him, and with good reason.  He had little use for their legalistic approach.  

I do want to be a real Catholic Christian.  It has taken years, but I finally can accept all that involves.  I am willing to make the sacrifices of my desires to live in adherence with what the Church demands.   I hope this doesn't make me a sour faced old woman wagging my finger at those who aren't living as I think they should.  Or those who aren't worshiping the way they "should" at Mass.  

I pray my eyes are open to Jesus, no matter how He should appear to me.  


  1. It won't make you any of those things, because your desire is not to point your finger, but to more closely adhere to Christ and follow His will. The worst thing we can do, and I point my finger at myself and no one else here, is to walk around with a long, unhappy and stern face. It's just a matter of finding the balance between joy and perfect obedience. I look to St. Therese, who, even in death, wore a sweet smile.

  2. Thanks Joyce. Sometimes I wonder if I don't wear that long face. It is not easy to live this way - I hope I make it look joyful like St. Therese, but I wonder.

  3. What a brilliant blog. One of your best actually. I can't say I would recognize Jesus if he were to come right in front of me, but the core of my spirituality - if people here haven't already guessed - is not adherence to the law. My core Catholic faith is not law or introspective spirituality but connection with the Christ within all people. Unlike many of the Catholic bloggers, my connection with Christ is exterior, not interior. When I'm at my most spiritual I can feel the Christ within all those around me. I'm not saying that happens very often (don't get me wrong, I get pissed off at lots of people or the day is usually too routine for me to notice), but when it does I feel like I'm touching God. So if Christ actually did step in front of me (actually he must every day) I think I might actually have a chance to notice. ;)

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  5. I think I would recognize His Majesty by His words and actions as revealed to us. I need to chew over this revelation much more to ensure I do not make a mistake in my recognition - and that is what you are doing.