from Wellspring by Anthony De Mello

I think of myself as quite a decent person, good-hearted and respected, with minor sins and failings, until it dawns on me that the greatest sinners are the ones who sin in ignorance.

I see the well intentioned damage “love” inflicts on helpless children.

I see the marks of cruelty in fervently religious people.

I see fair-minded Pharisees assess the evidence against Jesus and consider it their duty to do away with him.

It frightens me that I may be suffering from the sickness of the chief priests and the Pharisees.

They were so certain of themselves, so convinced that they were right, so closed to other viewpoints and to change. I think of people whom I know to be like that. And then I think of me.

The Pharisees were given to judging. People to them were either good or bad.

There was never any good in someone who their prejudice said was bad.

I think of other people who seem to be like that. I think of me. I make a list of “bad” people I know and wonder if at heart they might not be far better than I am.

The Pharisees were men of the establishment. They feared to rock the boat. I think of me.

The Pharisees loved power. They would force you to be good for your own sake. They could not leave you free. Again I think of me.

Finally, the Pharisee conformed. He might see the accused before him as not being guilty but he lacked the holy daring to stand up to his peers and speak his mind. I think, regretfully, of my fear to give offense, to disagree, my need to please.

I am no great improvement on the men who killed the Savior. All I can say is, “Lord, I am a sinner. Be merciful to me.”

I hear him answer gently, “You are precious to my heart, my child.” Whatever could he mean by that?

I use his eyes to find out what he sees in me that, even while he knows my sinfulness, he says, “You are precious to my heart.”

With those same eyes I look at “sinners” —the Hitlers and the Stalins of our times.

I look at people I dislike … reject.

Maybe I need those eyes of his to bring me to compassion and save me from the Pharisee in me.