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Salus animarum suprema lex esto” — “T
he salvation of souls must be the supreme law in the Church.” (Canon Law 1752)

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A Case of Mistaken Identity




“Meanwhile tax collectors and sinners were seeking the company of Jesus, all of them eager to hear what he had to say. But the Pharisees and the Scribes frowned at this, muttering. "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (Saint Luke 15.2)


Again we encounter the hypocritical judgments of the Pharisees and the Scribes in this Gospel reading.

Their attitude is the complete opposite to that of Jesus. Their reaction to the presence of so-called sinners and tax collectors was judgment that condemned; Jesus' attitude was one of love that redeemed.

In Jesus' time a “sinner” was one who was not within the Covenant, a pagan who did not observe God's will, particularly as expressed in the Law.

The tax collector was despised and equated with public sinners because of his link with the pagan occupying power and his frequent extortion. Because of this he was kept at a distance by every Jewish observer of the Law.

The Pharisees and Scribes self-righteously condemned the tax collectors and sinners, looking only at the externals, because indeed, the externals were all that they could ever hope to perceive.

Had they truly been men of prayer they would have seen into the hearts of men.

Jesus could see into the souls of these “sinners”, whose real sin was that of  greed, an idolatry of wealth and money. He saw them as people to be liberated, redeemed, people to be called away from false idols to the worship of His Father.

His knowledge of man was liberating, the Pharisee’s knowledge was binding.

There is a great lesson in all this:  Our learning should always be at the service of love, without a practical application, learning can be useless and dead.

It is also very humbling to see that often those outside Holy Mother Church, the pagans, the heretics, the schismatics, are sometimes more receptive to God’s Word and more readily assent to Truth than our own episcopacy, our bishops, cardinals, priests, Religious — and even the pope, who crave for the approval of the world ... than many Catholics are.



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