A famous philosopher was fond of saying that “Reading the bible is like looking into a mirror.” In other words, the bible does not speak so much about the characters that are in its stories as it speaks about us. So when Jesus criticizes the Pharisees, he is also asking us to look at ourselves.
What is he critical of? The Pharisees, like Jesus, were law-abiding Jews. But they placed too much importance on laws of lesser value than on ones with great value. They kept the law of washing their hands before a meal (not so much for sanity reasons but because it symbolized their need to be clean before God), but they gave in to the greater sins that Jesus lists at the end of this gospel passage…sins that come from within.
We do the same. We look at things in other people that we would like them to change: be more punctual, more organized, more responsible, we say to them. But we ignore what is really good about them. We must not let that which is less important cloud what is most important: our love of God and neighbor.