Do Not Judge - But Do Help!
This is one of the few times I wish to write on the Gospel passage from last Sunday because it has some striking language within it that I wish to highlight.
As many identify in this passage, Jesus is certainly calling us to continual conversion and repentance by removing the wooden beam from our own eyes and purifying our own hearts so that we might bear good fruit. But, interestingly enough, Christ says that this purification is not done for ourselves but for others. Jesus truly tells us to remove the wooden beam from our own eyes, but he says that we must do so in order to see clearly in removing the splinter from our neighbor’s eye (see Luke 6:42). Yes, we must not judge our brothers and sisters in life, but this comes with the duty and obligation to help them as they struggle with sin. We must work to overcome our sinfulness with the help of God so that we can help others be cured of their painful sinfulness as well.
It is not a sin to identify somebody’s actions as sinful, but it is sinful to condemn them. Our response to their sin should not be violence but compassion. We are called to recognize their plight in our own hearts - to see the same struggles and wounds caused by sin and to accompany them as they try to throw off this sin. We know the pain of having a splinter in our own eyes because we are removing the wooden beam stuck in our own eyes. To remove the wooden beam is not an isolated, individual process, but a healing that takes place within the context of the community. Though Christ is using the wooden beam as a metaphor to describe the wound of sin in our own heart, this would insinuate that we would still have a gigantic, open wound in our hearts from this sin. We are still in need of healing as we sow up, care for, and clean the wound that was left behind by this wooden beam. And miraculously, this healing takes place as we accompany others who experience and suffer from the same splinters and wooden beams that were once stuck in our own eyes. We were freed to help others become free, but those who we help continually free us into a deeper life of Love as well. Any gift we receive from God is always given for the sake of the other (both God and neighbor).
Judgment is the shadow-side of compassion for in seeing someone's plight we can either condemn them to sadness and isolation or bring them into a healing process that shall redeem them (and us!). For Jesus wants us to be like Him! “No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher.” (Luke 6:40). He wants us to be healers, to be those who forgive, to be those who welcome the outcast into our lives. Judgments shall always plague our minds since we have the original wound of pride that pits us against each other, but this wound can be sown up in accompanying our neighbor in healing. This process of growth in holiness is communal - we are never healed in isolation. Am I humble enough to accept my weakness? Am I open enough to accept healing from God, my family, and my friends? Am I generous enough to help somebody heal from the same wounds that I bear? These are the questions that we must dwell with and accept from this last Sunday’s Gospel. I hope and pray that we all may have the courage to be healed by our community and to heal our community through the Merciful Love of God. Amen.
A Prayer for you today:
May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us. Amen.
The Gospel Passage from this Last Sunday:
Jesus told his disciples a parable,
“Can a blind person guide a blind person?
Will not both fall into a pit?
No disciple is superior to the teacher;
but when fully trained,
every disciple will be like his teacher.
Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye,
but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?
How can you say to your brother,
‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’
when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye?
You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first;
then you will see clearly
to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.
“A good tree does not bear rotten fruit,
nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit.
For every tree is known by its own fruit.
For people do not pick figs from thornbushes,
nor do they gather grapes from brambles.
A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good,
but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil;
for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”
This 28th Day of February - Year of Our Lord 2022
Feast of St. Hilary (Click on that link to learn more about the saint of the day!)