The Gospel from Matthew today finds Jesus using certain Pharisees as an example for his disciples once again. Note that he tells his disciples to listen to them when they speak of the law, but don't always imitate the way they act. In short, Jesus is telling us that these Pharisees are good people who have some parts of their lives that they are getting wrong. Just like the rest of us.
It's easy to blow through Gospel readings like this, automatically dividing the disciples and Pharisees into "us and them" categories. Don't be like them. Them's bad! But that's not the point. Jesus is warning us that it will be easy for us to be like "them" and we have to be continually aware and on guard against that happening.
As I reflected on this passage of Matthew, I thought about all of us...clerics and lay folk...involved in the work of the Church, which has been my "day job" now for about eight years. It is very easy for us to fall into the Pharisee trap if we are not careful. I know it can be for me, and I have seen it in others as well. All good meaning people, all with their hearts in the right places, but sometimes it can creep in. A subtle version of "Hey, look at me, I'm holy!"
It's not my objective to be judgmental here. This is a great case of not being able to cast the stone because I'm as guilty as the next party.
It's just an observation that Jesus may actually be reminding those of us....in ministry and service or not... who strive to move closer to him each day to keep our heads up and be aware that each of us can be as susceptible to this temptation as the next person. The antidote? Humility. Jesus calls us to live humbly. A confessor once put this in easy-to-understand perspective for me. "Make an effort to put acts of charity in your day." What a great Lenten practice!