Today’s is the last blog for the week as I am now fully engaged in our youngest daughter’s wedding. And yes, I have been preoccupied and a expect I am seeing somethings differently. And may be that is why when I read Luke’s story of the Pharisee and tax collector I immediately saw a parallel between the Pharisee and the unjust judge of this past week.
Think about it. The Pharisee is so very pious. Yes, he thanks God, but then list all the things that he has done asserting their righteousness. At the same time is dismissive of selected classes of people, but you get the feeling he easily would include, well, just about everyone else. I can easily hear him saying: There but for the grace of God am I (my least favorite saying, but more about that later) with so little respect for anyone else, that he envisions himself at the top of the list.
The judge is dismissive towards God, in his view God doesn’t count. The Pharisee is presumptive towards God, asserting that he is in. I don’t think either listens for never mind listens to God.
Both the judge and the Pharisee are characters of caution. Through them Jesus is prodding us to be aware of our behavior.
The widow and the tax collector and very different: she is poor, no means of support; he is likely wealthy with the full weight of the Roman Empire behind him. Yet they are so very similar, she dismissed, he despised, she marginalized, he hated because he has gone over to the other-side. Jesus is boldly rejecting the wisdom of the day, he is saying that they are both in Gods embrace, that both live deep within the heart of God! And that gets me back to my least favorite saying.
As a pretext, I know what people are trying to express. Nonetheless when we see someone whose life is so repugnant to us that we’d say There but for the grace of God am I, why do we assume the other does not have God’s grace? The Gospel reveals that the other, that all people, are blessed by God, are within God’s grace. I ponder if we are in touch with our own blessings in as much as we see the others’ blessings, in as much as we reach out to the other as brother/sister simply because they are children of God, and heirs of Christ’s redeeming work.
So now it occurs to me the parallel to my daughter’s wedding. Marriage is an act in which two cleave in order to cleave; two split from their family in order to commit (stick to) their partner, and in the process become a family. Perhaps we are called to cleave from our judge-like/pharisaic ways in order to cleave to God’s grace and blessings.