Commentary on the Gospel of
St. Teresa of child Jesus liked Jesus’ story of the Pharisee and the tax collector. It suited her spirituality of accepting one’s imperfection. She tells that the Jewish people listening to Jesus, considered Pharisees as the good guys who try to do everything right. The tax collectors are the bad guys who have aligned with the Roman Empire and are taking money from their own Jewish people to give to the empire. So, no one likes the tax collectors, and everyone looks up to the Pharisees.
The tax collector admits his powerlessness. That's why Jesus says he goes home “justified.” On the other hand, the Pharisee, who has followed the rules and done it right, is too filled with himself to have any room inside for God. The religion of the tax collector is religion as receptivity, rather than religion as self-assertion and willpower. Perfection is not the exclusion of the contaminating element--the enemy, to use Jesus’ language--but, in fact, perfection is the ability to include imperfection.