30th Sunday of Ordinary Time: Confessions of a guilty bystander

"You are the man." (2 Sam. 12:7)

The genius of the parables of Jesus is the same as the one told by the prophet Nathan to King David in 2 Samuel 12: They make us identify clearly which attitude and behaviour are the correct ones, and which are not, and then in the next moment they turn our accusing finger pointed at the guilty of the parable against ourselves.

How many of us have not, when listening to or reading today's Gospel, secretly prayed in our heart: "Lord, I give you thanks that I am not like that Pharisee..." and thus revealed the depth of our judgemental attitude and of our self-deception, both about our own righteousness and our own humility?

We know well that the tax collector is the one to identify with and we readily do so. After all, we know ourselves to be sinners in need of God's mercy. What we too easily forget, though, is that this knowledge still gives us no right to judge others who seem to have less insight into their own flaws and faults than we do. The Gospel clearly states: Jesus told this parable to some who trusted their own righteousness and looked down on others. The final line reiterates: Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, but those who humble themselves will be exalted. And this includes those who exalt themselves on account of their own humility and self-knowledge.

Indeed, as saint Dominic encouraged his brothers and sisters and as God told saint Catherine of Siena, we should never judge anyone inwardly, for human judgement is often mistaken (cf. Constitutiones primaevae fratrum 1,13; sororum 14; Dialogue 105). Knowing ourselves to be sinners in need of God's mercy, we should be merciful to others, trusting that our Father will be so to us.

First published in Polish in the magazine W drodze nr. 518 (10/2016)