What “Good People” Can Miss

September 1st, 2012 Posted in writing

In Jesus’ time, the Pharisees were, one might say, the professional good people. Carefully observing the Law in even the littlest things, they worked hard to be good and, perhaps more importantly, to be recognized as good.

They also seemed always on the lookout to catch Jesus saying or doing something they could use against him, even when they invited him to dinner; and they criticized his disciples about things they did, like eating with tax collectors, picking wheat on the Sabbath or not engaging in rigorous fasting.

Jesus used some harsh words about the Pharisees because they seemed to have lost the awareness that God is generous, loving, patient and forgiving. So, Jesus routinely challenged their narrow view of God and their judgmental attitude towards others.

And Jesus challenges the ways that we, too, can behave like Pharisees, trying to convince ourselves and others that we are better because we go to church often or know a lot of facts about our faith.

Like the Pharisees, we, too, can miss the fact that true religion and true goodness are not about appearing to be pious or judging others harshly. They are about honestly admitting our need for God’s mercy and showing concern for those who are poor, suffering, marginalized or exploited. (Matthew 25)

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