Here’s one thing I kind of like about the Pharisees: it’s so easy to feel superior to them. Reading this Gospel, I give myself a smug little high-five because I’d never react that way. Unlike those narrow-minded Pharisees, I absolutely love that Jesus welcomes sinners. (I conveniently overlook the fact that I’m not nearly as good at welcoming everyone as I’d like to think I am.)
But when I reflected on the Gospel this time around, I realized that there is one way that I am embarrassingly like the Pharisees. I, too, have grievances and complaints—different from theirs, but complaints just the same. And often, I—like the Pharisees—don’t take those grievances to Jesus himself.
Because what leapt out at me this time is that they don’t ask Jesus their question. They ask the disciples.
Why don’t they address Jesus directly? Perhaps they are too disgusted at the company He is keeping. Perhaps they are trying to discredit Him among his friends. Or perhaps—just perhaps—they don’t really want to know the answer at all. Perhaps they would rather hang on to their outrage than hear an answer that might, after all, make a surprising amount of sense.
And this is where it all starts to feel uncomfortably close to home.
Because when little grievances come up in my own life, my first instinct is to take them to other people, not to Jesus Himself. Uncomfortable changes at work? I vent to my mom. That publishing project that isn’t moving as I think it should? I vent to my husband. It’s not that I should stop doing this; the people who love us want to know what’s on our minds. But—embarrassing as it is to admit this—there are many times when I simply don’t take my concerns to Jesus.
Maybe it’s because I don’t actually want to hear what Jesus has to say. Maybe it’s because I would rather hold onto my own preconceived ideas of how my little part of the world should work. Maybe the answers Jesus will give are challenging, stretching me in ways I don’t want to be stretched.
But Jesus gave the Pharisees a good answer. A great one, in fact.
And He’ll give me great answer, too, if I give Him a chance.
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When you have a complaint or a grievance, how open are you to Jesus’ answer for you? Pray about this.
Ginny Kubitz Moyer is a mother, high school English teacher, and BBC period drama junkie. She is the author of Random MOMents of Grace: Experiencing God in the Adventures of Motherhood and Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God. Ginny lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, two boys, and about thirty thousand Legos. You can find out more about her here.