Commentary on the Reading of the day provided by :
Saint Gregory the Great (c.540-604),
Pope, Doctor of the Church
An open breach
With what precaution the Pharisee, who went up to the Temple to pray and who had fortified the citadel of his soul, claimed to fast twice a week and give the tenth of all he earned.
When he said: “My God, I thank you,” it is very clear he had brought along every imaginable precaution with which to defend himself.
However, he leaves one place open and exposed to the enemy by adding: “Because I am not like this publican here”.
And so, through his vanity, he handed over to his enemy entrance into the city of his heart which, nevertheless, he had thoroughly locked up with his fasts and alms.
All other precautions are useless, then, when there remains in us some opening by which the enemy might enter… That Pharisee had conquered gluttony with abstinence; he had overcome avarice with generosity…
But how much work for the sake of this victory had been made useless by a single vice? by the breach of a single sin?
This is why we ought not simply to think about doing good but watch carefully over our thoughts to keep them pure in our good deeds..
For if they are a source of vanity or pride in our hearts then we are only fighting for a glory that is vain, not for that of our Creator.