The Teacher ate the house of a respected religious leader. At the feast, a prostitute entered and fell at the feet of the Teacher, showering him with praise. The religious leader was aghast. Seeing his look of contempt, the Teacher remarked to him that it was this prostitute who honored Him, not the self-righteous Teacher.
This is the story of Jesus and Simon the Pharisee. It is the story of all Christians in relation to God. And it the same story relayed in episodes 7 and 8 of Claymore.
During these episodes, Teresa of the Faint Smile and a young, pre-Claymore Clare are absconding after the former’s slaying of a group of vile bandits. The remaining top warriors in the organization, led by the newcomer, Priscilla, descend upon Teresa to punish her for her sin. The results, of course, are the stuff of legend and to this day, the most exciting parts of the excellent Claymore series.
While fighting, Teresa and Priscilla have an interesting conversation:
Priscilla: “The Organization’s rules are supposed to be absolute….And to kill humans destroys the trust the Organization has built up and it’s unforgivable. So I am very sorry, but in accordance to the Organization’s rules, I will take your head, Teresa.”
Teresa: “It’s unbelievable how you’ve been indoctrinated with logic convenient for the organization…The world isn’t so simple and it doesn’t operate by such ideals, little Miss.”
Like Simon, Priscilla has become lost in a set of rules that betray noble ideals. She desires to do what is right, and perhaps more than any Claymore, wants to protect human life. But like the Pharisees, somewhere along the way, she’s allowed the addition of outside rules to destroy something valuable. As the Pharisees follow stringent rules that hurt those that need help the most, Priscilla follows rules without regard for for the situation, fed by fear and hate.
Eventually, the four Claymores all fall to Teresa. She approaches her greatest threat, Priscilla, apparently with an intent to kill. The fearful young Claymore cries to her dad (almost prayerfully as one would with God the Father), but finds grace instead as Teresa sheaths her sword, offering life. Of course, like a true Pharisee, Priscilla abandons any sense of compassion that once filled her, finding Teresa’s actions “unforgivable” because they went against the Organization’s rules (more on what happens with Priscilla later).
This analogy works even further when considering Phantom Miria’s later belief that an outside power is overseeing the events in the country which serves as the series’ setting – their representatives are the Organization, as the Pharisees claimed to represent God. But as just as Teresa talks about the Organization’s falsehood, Jesus claims the Pharisees have missed the point.
Now, on to the spoilers:
SPOILERS BEGIN HERE
Further correlations can of course be made as the fight restarts. Eventually, in what is to me one of the most dramatic scenes of all anime, Priscilla awakens and beheads Teresa, taking her role as the primary antagonist in the series. Although I’ve compared Teresa to John the Baptist in the past (one superficial point was the manner of their deaths), here, the analogy continues to work with the Pharisees, who schemed to crucify Christ.
Priscilla transforms, physically, into a monster. She has let the rules and her hatred overcome her, much as how the Pharisees changed from simply being self-righteous, prideful men into those complicit in murder.
SPOILERS END HERE
We all are Pharisees to some extent. The point of the story of Simon isn’t just focused on his judgmental attitude – it’s also to emphasize what it really means to follow God. Christians become wrapped up in service, going through the motions, and just simply “participating,” actions which may be a lesser form of phariseeism; they can forget that genuine worship is a response. It’s sincere and wholehearted. And that’s the tough part – if we’ve fallen into becoming Pharisees, even ones like Simon who still may have respected Christ, it’s difficult to change our worldview and live a life of worshipful response. But it’s the right way to live.
And so, the lesson here is this: keep your eye on the light. Be genuine. Avoid the trap falls of religion. And be the prostitute, not the demon.