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Monica Portogallo reflects on several Scripture passages, considering whether she might be behaving like the Pharisees did. 

Over the years, I’ve had an interesting relationship with the Pharisees in the Gospels. As a young person, they made me incredulous. How could they see Jesus in the flesh and witness His miracles, yet not only refuse to believe in Him but even kill Him?! 

As I’ve gotten older, and I daresay wiser, I’ve come to realize I am not so very different from those Pharisees. Maybe I don’t literally try to put Jesus to death, but I let things like pride, the desire for earthly praise and attention, and self-righteousness get in the way of knowing and loving God, just like they did in Jesus’s time.  

So in an effort to examine my life more closely, I reflect on several Scripture passages and what ways I might be behaving like the Pharisees did. 


When [John the Baptist] saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance. (Matthew 3:7-8)

When have I done things solely to look good to others? 

When have my outwardly good actions had selfish intentions? 


While [Matthew] was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples.The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” (Matthew 9:10-13)  

Which people do I consider myself too good to associate with? 

Whom do I consider unworthy of compassion or assistance? 


The demon was driven out the mute person spoke. The crowds were amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.” But the Pharisees said, “He drives out demons by the prince of demons.” (Matthew 9:33-34)  

When have I let jealousy cloud my judgment? 

When have I failed to recognize God’s providence and grace around me? 

When have I spread unfair rumors about others? 


Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” He said to them in reply, “An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.” (Matthew 12:38-39) 

When have I failed to recognize God’s works in my life and insisted God meet me on my terms? 

When have I asked God to do my will instead of me seeking to do His? 


Some Pharisees approached him, and tested him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?” (Matthew 19:3) 

When have I tried to make others look bad to make myself feel better or justified? 

When have I been intellectually dishonest to prove a point or protect my pride? 


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I’ve come to realize I am not so very different from those Pharisees. #CatholicMom



Copyright 2023 Monica Portogallo
Images: Nikolai Ge, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons