Pentecost +22 - Year C
Neither righteousness nor self-righteousness (externally it is difficult to tell the two apart) is an easy nut to crack. Confronting it mostly sets it more firmly in its ways. Telling a story can sometimes help, a la Jimmy Stewart roles. Even here, though, a story, more often than not, is time-delayed in its effectiveness.
Here a story is told and you will have to decide its effectiveness. Imagine telling this story on the steps of any legislative body. Who will hear it as affirmation of themselves, humble folk that they are, and who will hear it as a condemnation of the other other, prideful bastards that they be. Yes, that’s right, heads-I’m-innocent and tails-you’re-guilty.
That’s the easy setting. How does this story sound on your steps?
Finally, a question comes about justification - did the Pharisee add a merciful act to his repertoire of fasting and tithing? Would that make any difference? Did the tax collector raise his rates, for who could deserve that more than such a humble person?
Is justification your personal gift or a communal responsibility?