Dear Parish Faithful & Friends in Christ.
Here is some more on the Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee, from “our Father among the saints,” St. Cyril of Alexandria (+444). St. Cyril, with great rhetorical skill, reproaches the Pharisee for praising himself while pointing out the infirmities of the conscience-stricken publican:
What profit is there in fasting twice in the week if it serves only as a pretext for ignorance and vanity and makes one proud, haughty and selfish? You tithe your possessions and boast about it.
In another way, you provoke God’s anger by condemning and accusing other people of this. You are puffed up, although not crowned by the divine decree for righteousness. On the contrary, you heap praise on yourself. He says, “I am not as the rest of humankind.” Moderate yourself, O Pharisee. Put a door and lock on your tongue. (PS. 141:3)
You speak to God who knows all things. Wait for the decree of the judge. No one who is skilled in wrestling ever crowns himself. No one also receives the crown from himself but waits for the summons of the referee….
Lower your pride because arrogance is accursed and hated by God. It is foreign to the mind that fears God. Christ even said, “Do not judge and you shall not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned.” (LK. 6:37)
One of his disciples also said, “There is one lawgiver and judge. Why then do you judge your neighbor?” (JM. 4:12) No one who is in good health ridicules one who is sick or being laid up and bedridden. He is rather afraid, for perhaps he may become the victim of similar sufferings. A person in battle, because another has fallen, does not praise himself for having escaped from misfortune. The weakness of others is not a suitable subject for praise for those who are in health.
Commentary on Luke, Homily 120.
"Who Do I Resemble"
In addition, here is a link to an older meditation I wrote on the Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee, with the title "Who Do I Resemble?" — meaning the publican or the pharisee. In answering this question, perhaps some deeply honest self-examination may have us squirming in our seats a bit!