Tuesday in the Second Week of Lent

by Lisa Bellamy

A Gospel Riff

abstract art

As a listener to and reader of the New Testament, sometimes there’s nothing more delicious than feeling superior to the Pharisees. The vivid portraits of religious leaders suffering from so human qualities of hypocrisy, lack of humility and overall proud cluelessness come alive, in the words of Jesus. It is more uncomfortable — and more distressing — to see myself as a “Pharisee.” For example, when I was in college I told people I was a vegetarian but in fact continued to eat meat. I was not willfully deceptive. I actually believed I was vegetarian but this was 100% imaginary; a fantasy about what kind of person I wanted to be, in those days. I wanted to be seen and admired as a vegetarian. The next step — putting an aspiration and belief into action — never quite happened. I cheerfully continued to eat hamburgers. I offered judgmental opinions about meat-eaters to, for example, my then-boyfriend’s parents. I know this is an odd and pretty benign example of the gap between belief and action (although not so benign for those cows), but habitual blindness to the gap causes harm. These days, I want to try to remember to just exhale, pay attention to my own behavior with at least some insight and kindness and extend that kind attention to others.