Who Are the Self-Righteous?

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Who Are the Self-Righteous?

“I have not come to invite the self-righteous to a change of heart, but sinners.”   (Luke 5:32) 

In Luke’s Gospel account we read that Jesus did not come to invite the self-righteous to a change of heart, but sinners.  Have you ever wondered if Jesus were just being facetious when He made that remark (since the self-righteous are sinners), or is it possible He was just stating an indisputable fact: it is insuperably difficult to get the self-righteous to change? What about us? Have we become accustomed to certain sayings and designations which betray our own self-righteousness: “My country, right or wrong,” “East/West,” or labeling as “the enemy” any nation or group which does not think or dress the way we do? Or, are we less sure of ourselves these days and find that these slogans come less convincingly to our thoughts and lips? If so, we are at a good place to begin recognizing that the real enemies we have are within our very selves. With a little reflection we will begin to realize why the Church continually celebrates the  lives of the saints who demonstrated a value system completely different from our own. To mention a few—the penitent sinner, St. Mary Magdalen; the just and humble ruler, St. Louis of France; or, closer to our own day, Mother Theresa and good Pope John XXIII. Let us look to them as we struggle with our so-called “outer” enemies and, from them, learn humility and how to repent for our sins. This softening of the heart is called “conversion,” which is the basis of all holiness.

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like Yours!

 —Sister Mary E. Penrose



Sister Mary E. Penrose, OSB

Sister Mary E. Penrose is a Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. She edits readings for the liturgical Hours and writes reflections for the Community. And she is a tutor for the African Sisters attending The College of St. Scholastica. She was editor of a journal, Spirit & Life, for 18 years.


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