Families, Pharisees, and Tax Collectors

By Phillip Garside

All parents should support one another. Sometimes, we are tempted to say with the Pharisee, “O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity … or even like this tax collector.”

This can be the case when we see people whose parenting style or priorities within the family are different than our own. But these variances may not be incompatible with good parenting.

There are many healthy ways to run a family. Like the situation between the Pharisee and the tax collector, there are possibilities to learn, even from families that appear unhealthy.

We should be aware that our personal circumstances do not set the universal standard of perfection. A married Catholic couple going to Mass regularly and possessing middle-class values could turn these facts about themselves into tools of self-justification.

Here is another set of life circumstances: Hagar was a not a Hebrew. She was a slave and, in the desert, she was a single mother. Regardless, in Genesis Chapter 21, God talks directly to her just as he does to Abraham and makes similar promises to her as de does to Abraham.

Catholic parents may feel the need to value appearances over hospitality or humility, much like the Pharisee and the tax collector. But, we must be discerning enough to recognize true beatitude and humble enough to learn from every source available. This is the way the Body of Christ is edified by our mutual support.

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