The Pharisee's prayer was not pleasing to the Lord because he was not humble. One sign of lacking humility is to compare ourselves with others. "The Pharisee with head unbowed prayed in this fashion: 'I give You thanks, O God, that I am not like the rest of men — grasping, crooked, adulterous — or even like this tax collector' " (Lk 18:11).
It is obvious that to put others down to make ourselves look better is a comparison steeped in pride. However, it is also contrary to humility to compare ourselves unfavorably to others. To think that we aren't as good as someone else is not focusing on our God-given uniqueness, is not seeing ourselves the way the Lord wants us to see ourselves, and is not being humble. Humility is not humiliation. "With humility, have self-esteem; prize yourself as you deserve" (Sir 10:27). Humility is to see ourselves as utterly dependent on God and as redeemed, chosen, precious, priestly, and royal (see 1 Pt 2:9). Therefore, neither favorable nor unfavorable comparisons of ourselves with others are in accord with humility.
Throughout the Lenten season and especially in Holy Week, we focus on the Passion and death of Jesus. Our meditation on the crucified Christ must not make us hate ourselves for sharing through our sins in such a despicable crime. Our focus on Christ crucified should fill us with thanksgiving that we are so loved and with awe that we are considered so precious by the Lord.
Humble yourself to love yourself.