Here's how it went: my husband and I have a revolving-door argument; he feels that I expect him to listen to my feelings and yet don't expect myself to hear about his. That's not exactly how I see things. I feel that I am being quite truthful and objective most of the time.
Finally he turned to me and said, "I am seriously accusing you of hypocrisy here."
I replied, "I am very hurt by this."
We parted ways in the kitchen, and I went to commiserate with God about how hurt I was, and began to read the Gospel readings for the day. Here was the reading, from Matthew:
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! 25 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and rapacity. 26 You blind Pharisee! first cleanse the inside of the cup and of the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
Yes, I was a little shocked. It was as if the Lord stepped into the room and joined the conversation right where it left off. And I cried a little inside, saying to Him, "But I'm not lying when I say I feel that I am being truthful and objective. So how am I a hypocrite? Aren't hypocrites liars?"
I read on to the meditation below, and then I understood, and a flash of great light was shone on the error of my thoughts:
Do you allow any blind-spots to blur your vision of God's kingdom and his ways? Jesus went to the heart of the matter when he called the religious leaders of his day blind Pharisees and hypocrites! A hypocrite is an actor or imposter who says one thing but does the opposite or who puts on an outward appearance of doing good while inwardly clinging to wrong attitudes, selfish desires and ambitions, or bad intentions...they[scribes] were so exacting in their interpretations and in trying to live them out, that they had little time for much else...they were very attentive to minute matters of little importance, but they neglected to care for the needy and the weak. Jesus admonished them because their hearts were not right. They were filled with pride and contempt for others who were not like themselves. They put unnecessary burdens on others while neglecting to show charity...
I have a very exacting, logical side to my personality; I relish computations and ordering and symmetry. I could probably be a very good, happy accountant. I also have an artistic, hippy side and so I forget that the logical side, though good, can begin to take over if I forget what an ass I can be, if I forget my fallen state and that 'the devil is like a lion reading to devour' and that my pride is a major breach in the defenses.
Through wounding, or what my own birth family valued highly (order, politeness, exactness, along with fun and love), I failed to see who my husband is. I failed to see his desire for good, in my zealousness to wrestle with the logical or theological issue from a book we were discussing. I was paying attention to straining the ritually unclean gnats of inadequate or ambiguous language, and swalllowed the ritually unclean camel of total insensitivity and lack of charity towards another human being.
I understand now that hypocrisy is not really about lying, though it is in the end, a lie. It is about a heart that is itself a lie, that habitually misses the mark. I saw how full of sin I am, because does not St. Paul define sin, fundamentally, as "missing the mark"? As St. Thomas Aquinas says, none of us are doing things because we say, "Oh, good, that's really evil. I am going to do that." Instead, we have reasons why we think it is actually good, or we think actions are coming from a good intention, which they may well be; the real question is deeper than that:
Is our heart, the center of us, where actions come, set up so that we consistently hit the mark?
What is the mark?
God said it quite severely to me this morning. The mark is love. Not sentimental slop, but a true desire for the good of God, which encompasses the true good of others and myself. It is always lining up my good with God's will, God's good. And God's will is love first: the person comes first before the argument; the good of a human being before the good of being right. Being right, finding truth is good insofar as it is good for the other, ourselves, God. We cannot worship anything, anything, or anyone besides God by putting them out of the order of love.
Anything we do, any communication, must be in love if it is to really hit the mark; our hearts must be ordered to Christ's way, to Christ Himself, whom we must imitate.
After I apologized to my husband and everyone I could think of, I apologized to God, who told me in my heart that in apologizing sincerely and in being willing to see it, I was following His order of love and thus apologizing to Him. I went around singing, "I am a hypocrite" and feeling joy about it, because I could see it.
The worst thing is to be tied up in one's own thoughts and ideas so that seeing the truth inside is near-impossible; I now must find another way to think and to live, and I need help from others because it has been a working part of me so long, deep inside, that I don't know how to live another way, in practice. To love in practice, and not abstractly.
To avoid the camel by looking past the gnats, or loving past the gnats.