In a Broadway theater, an obstructed view seat is usually a very economical way to see a show. In our earthly pilgrimage, an obstructed view can be very expensive!
Today's Gospel reminds us that our own observations can often be very, very far from accurate --even when it seems that we have all the information needed to make a sound judgment. As certain as we may be that we have a complete picture of a situation, we can never make a correct judgment unless we know the heart of the person whose actions we are tempted to judge.
How often are we tempted to take offense at the words or actions of another and sometimes we even allow it to affect our own actions and reactions? How many of these times have we been wrong about the intention of the "offending party?" Our "judgment" may cause us to change our behavior, become less solicitous, less generous, less friendly and it may well be the case that since we did not know the heart of our neighbor, our judgment was incorrect.
The publican's heart was so very clearly disposed to the Lord's mercy that he was justified. We can never know, on this side of eternity, how the Lord sees the hearts of our neighbors. We can, however, strive to remember how incomplete a picture we have from our own vantage point and, with God's grace, we can starve the temptation to make a judgment on the actions or words of our neighbor.
"The Pharisee looked upon the publican as a great sinner . . . but how mistaken he was, inasmuch as the condemned publican was even then justified! If God's Mercy is so great, that one single moment is sufficient for it to justify and save a man, what assurance have we that he who yesterday was a sinner is the same today?"
St. Francis de Sales