Saturday, March 2, 2019

8th Sunday Year C (Gospel: Luke 6:39-45) The splinter in your brother’s eye

The more scandals we hear about in our Church, the more disturbing it is. One thing I am glad of, is that people at the highest level in our Church have not been let off the hook. This is something that did not happen in the past. Thankfully we are getting beyond that. No one is above the law, or beyond conviction. Two cardinals have now been convicted of sexual abuse in the past and I’m glad they are being convicted, like anyone else. I have nothing against them personally, but no one should be above conviction, or just-punishment.

We are told not to judge. That has to be understood correctly. It is normal to judge a person’s actions. If someone murders another, it is morally wrong. If someone abuses another person, sexually, or in any other way, it is morally wrong and we can judge these things as right or wrong. The judgement we cannot make is the judgement of the heart. We cannot judge the heart of the person who did something like that, because only God can judge the heart. We don’t know what causes someone to act the way they do. I suspect that if we could see what goes on in the heart of each other, we would be a lot more merciful with one another.

The truth is, all of us are learning and will continue to learn until the day we die. This is God’s will for us, because the more we learn, the more we grow as people. The greatest learning we can do, is self-knowledge. The more we are able to look at ourselves honestly, the less likely we are to be over-critical of others. At the end of the day, if we are honest with ourselves, none of us is in a position to judge the heart of anyone else, and yet we do it all the time. It is very hard for us to distinguish between the actions of another from their heart. We tend to judge the person rather than their actions. If you turn it around, how would you feel if people only judged your heart, rather than by your actions. You know the way we do things and then are frustrated with ourselves, because we know we can do better, but our own weakness pulls us down.

I remember in one of the parishes where I worked, an old lady went into a room for a meeting. In that room a carpenter was doing some work. She lost her temper with him and threatened to throw out his tools etc. Her reaction was completely out of proportion to what was going on. As it happened I turned up a few minutes later, but I realized she felt I was there to judge her. I knew that because the next time she came to me for Communion she had her head down; she wouldn’t look at me in the face. I felt the Lord saying to me, ‘You see the shame this woman feels because of her own weakness. Perhaps this is a temper she cannot control and it causes her great grief.’ It would be easy to write her off as a cantankerous old woman, without giving any consideration for the fact that maybe this is a weakness that she doesn’t have much control over and that causes her great humiliation. We cannot judge the heart. ‘Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?

A woman once came with her son to Gandhi. She asked him to tell her son to give up eating candy, as he was totally addicted to it. Gandhi told her to go away and come back in three weeks. So she returned three weeks later. Then Gandhi said to her son, ‘You should give up all this candy, it is going to damage your health!’ The woman was puzzled and asked him why he hadn’t said that three weeks before. He told her that he was also addicted to candy, and so he had to give it up himself before he could tell her son to do it.

When I am in traffic and someone cuts me off, or does something that scares the heck out of me, I usually react like most of us and get angry with the person, calling them all kinds of words that aren’t in the bible. But then I try to stop myself and ask myself if I have ever done anything similar. That usually gets me to calm down.

‘Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?

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