The holier people in Jericho grumbled when they saw Jesus going to eat in the house of a sinner. They thought he should have favored some truly religious people. But who would they be?
The first reading, addressing God, says, “You love all things that are.” And that reading goes on to say, “You love all things that are. How could any person remain in existence unless you willed it?”
Our Lord’s story of “The Pharisee and the Tax Collector who went up to the temple to pray” makes this same point, that humanity is not divided between religious persons like the Pharisee, and non-religious persons like the Tax Collector.
The Pharisee, seeing himself as a truly religious person, prayed, “I thank God I am not like the rest of men, for I fast twice a week, and pay tithes on all I possess.” While the Tax Collector just beat his breast, saying, “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.” And Jesus said, “This latter went back to his home justified, while the other did not.
Jesus, by saying the Tax Collector “went back to his home,” meant he went back to his place of business. He was saying that Tax Collectors are necessary for the upkeep of society, as are men who run filling stations. (The world would be in a mess if all we had were monasteries for religious people like nuns and monks.)
My mother used to avoid very religious people, referring to them as “Holier than Thous.” The most intimate relationship for each of us is the one we continuously carry on with our creator.