They are always with us, aren't they? Someone is always ready to ask "What are they doing in here?"
Most people do not think of themselves as Pharisees and indeed they do not intend to become one. It just sort of happens. The Pharisees were not all that bad since their flexibility and willingness to change allowed the Jews to survive the two millennia since the destruction of the temple. In fact there were notable Pharisees who supported Jesus and became part of the early Church. Apparently by Jesus' time a certain corruption had set in and if it can happen to them it can certainly happen to us.
How then do we know we are in danger of succumbing to the same corruption as the Pharisees who confronted Jesus?
1. DISDAIN FOR THOSE AT THE BACK OF THE LINE
Instead of a Jesus-like compassion for those who can’t keep up, we view them with a deepening sense of frustration, cynicism, and a cocky arrogance. Whether it is someone who struggles with sin or who just isn't quite as zealous as we are, we tend to look down on them.
2. A SPIRIT OF EXCLUSIVITY
When thinning the herd becomes more important than expanding the kingdom; or raising the bar becomes more important than helping people climb over it, something has gone terribly wrong.
3. LEGALISM AND AN OBSESSION WITH TECHNICALITIES
The practice of the faith does not require literacy much less a degree in canon law. The gotcha on a technicality mindset which requires many pages of closely typed text to explain and which is beyond the ordinary parishioner is a sign something is seriously wrong.
4. A PATTERN OF IDOLIZING THE PAST
We tend to look nostalgically back at an idealized past and ignore the faults and failures. But the present-day Bride of Christ and the current crop of leaders whom Jesus has put in place are assailed for their blind spots, failures, and feet of clay. Like the Pharisees of old, we rip on the living prophets and then build monuments to them once they die. Dead popes are preferable to live ones.
5. A QUEST FOR CLONE-LIKE UNIFORMITY
Jesus had room for Simon the Zealot and Matthew the Tax Collector. Rather than being loyal to the Church we give our loyalty to one or another party within it. People who are on our side get a free pass while those who are not are beyond the pale.