From this morning’s gospel: “Jesus enjoined them, ‘Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.’” (Mark 8:15). Poor Pharisees; they really get a bad name and reputation. If you asked them, they would describe themselves as one of the good guys. They were born out of a movement of desire among the non-priestly class and the experience of the Babylonian Exile and centuries of foreign rule: “How did this happen to us?” It was a movement that understood the path to holiness as a people, as a nation, was through the individual living holiness in every aspect of their lives. To be fair, St. Francis of Assisi was part of a larger lay-led spirituality movement of the 12th century that emerged in many countries across western Europe as the western world emerged from the dark age. There are many modern biblical scholars that would see many similarities with Jesus and the Pharisaic movement.
In an earlier post I had written: “There are thermometer people and thermostat people. All a thermometer can do is respond to the temperature around it. When the fire of prophet or Messiah is in the same room – they are on fire. When the room changes, the thermometer changes. All it can do is reflect the conditions of the room.”
While there are many similarities between Jesus and the Pharisaic movement of his day, it strikes me is that there are thermostat people who enliven and engage the thermometer people while they are in the room.The problem is that when the latter leaves the room, they are still a thermometer. Some thermostat people (I am suggesting Jesus!) convert thermostats people into thermometer people.
If, like the Pharisees, we count ourselves among the “good guys” we should perhaps test our basis for the conclusion. Are we just another thermometer person in a world of the same? Or have our lives been changed such that we are at least part thermostat in the grace and Spirit of Jesus. Seems to me, then we just might well be among the “good guys.”