Wednesday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time
(Romans 2:1-11; Luke 11:42-46)
The great psychoanalyst C.J. Jung observed that people frequently criticize and condemn in others what they dislike about themselves. He calls the shunned characteristic one’s “shadow” and implores people to make peace with it before it wreaks havoc. Jung develops language to name the same evil that St. Paul describes in the reading from the Letter to the Romans today.
Paul is making a diatribe. He does not actually have his readers in mind when he accuses people of ignoring the defects in themselves that they criticize in others. The “man” addressed is all men and women who delude themselves into thinking that they are better than others by ignoring their own shortcomings. Paul adds that purposeful blindness merits punishment.
Reconciling with our shadow means more than recognizing our faults. We need to accept them in the context of the benefits that God has bestowed. He has permitted the faults – be they the almost universal desire for undue recognition or something darker like compulsiveness about physical pleasures -- so that in correcting them with His grace we might grow more thankful as well as virtuous.