Thursday, 24th Week in Ordinary Time
In today’s gospel, the Pharisee thinks he is the righteous one who is worthy to be in the company of Jesus and that the woman was the sinful one unworthy to be seen with Jesus. In the end Jesus showed each of them where they really belonged: the woman was seen as the one who was righteous and more deserving of the company of Jesus than the self-righteous Pharisee.
Why do things like this happen? Well, because it is easy to notice the fault of other people while being blind to our own faults. Great men and women of God have been, all without exception, people who are so aware of their own inadequacies that they are hardly surprised at other people’s shortcomings. People who delight in criticizing others thereby betray their lack of self-awareness.
But what was the mistake of the Pharisee? If the woman was indeed a prostitute where then did he err? After all what he said about the woman was true, wasn’t it? Of course the woman was a sinner. Jesus did not say that the woman was not a sinner. Jesus only said that the man was a sinner too, and in fact, a worse sinner than the woman.
It is important to go back to the passage (Mt. 7:1-5) where the Lord says: “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.” Then, Jesus talks about noticing the splinter in somebody else’s eye but failing to see the wooden beam in our own eyes. What is condemned here is precisely rash judgments and condemnations born out of arrogance and self-righteousness.
Jesus is challenging us to ask ourselves, in the strongest words possible: What right do we have to judge and condemn others?
Today’s gospel is good news indeed to all who have been humiliated by the ‘good people’ of this world. Humiliated in a supposed concern to maintain the standard of holiness in the household of God. Jesus assures them that they are indeed closer to the heart of God than their accusers have made them to believe. And to those who feel that Jesus is their ‘exclusive’ birthright, the Good News for them today is simple: Watch it, lest in the end you discover that it is you who are farther from God.