In today’s Gospel Jesus draws our attention to practical points of Christian living and challenges us to use our words as he used his in his preaching and healing ministry — to heal, to restore, and to bring back life, joy, and hope. Today’s readings also instruct us to share our Christian life, love, and spiritual health by our words, and to avoid gossiping about and passing rash, thoughtless, pain-inflicting judgments on others, thus damaging their good reputation and causing them irreparable harm.
The first reading, taken from the Book of Sirach, teaches that what is inside us is revealed through our conversation – as the grain and husks are separated in a farmer’s sieve, as the quality of the shaped clay is revealed in the potter’s fire, and as the size and quality of a tree’s fruit reveal the care it has received from the planter. Sirach’s teaching serves as an excellent preview for today’s Gospel, which reminds us, when we’re feeling judgmental, to think before we speak because what comes out of our mouth reveals our heart. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 92) advises us to spend our time praising and thanking God for all His blessings. In the second reading St. Paul advises the Corinthian Christians “to be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain,” instead of wasting time on useless and sinful conversations, which bring punishment instead of the victory of resurrection and eternal reward.
In today’s Gospel passage, taken from the Sermon on the Plain given in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus condemns our careless, malicious, and rash judgments about the behaviour, feelings, motives, or actions of others by using the funny examples of one blind man leading another blind man and one man with a log stuck in his eye, trying to remove a tiny speck from another’s eye.
We should avoid judging others because no one except God is good enough to judge others because only God sees the whole truth, and only He can read the human heart. Hence, only He has the ability, right, and authority to judge us.
We do not see all the facts or circumstances or the power of the temptation which has led a person to do something evil. We are often prejudiced in our judgment of others, and total fairness cannot be expected from us, especially when we are judging those near or dear to us. We have no right to judge because we have the same faults as the one, we are judging and often in a greater degree (remember Jesus’ funny example of a man with a log in his eye trying to remove the dust particle from another’s eye?) St. Philip Neri commented, watching the misbehaviour of a drunkard: “There goes Philip but for the grace of God.”
Abraham Lincoln said that the only one who has the right to criticize is the one who has the heart to help. Hence, we should leave all judgment to God, practice mercy and forgiveness, and pray for God’s grace to get rid of all forms of hypocrisy in our lives. Let us remember the warning of saints: “When you point one finger of accusation at another, three of your fingers point at you.”
Often, when someone has pointed one finger of accusation at us, and we feel hurt and wronged we also need to remember to pray for the grace not to react despite how wronged we feel. If we do, we provide the justification for the one who has pointed the finger, and who will undoubtedly fail to see the error of their actions and only the action of our response as a means of satisfying themselves that they were not in the wrong at all.
It can often be the hardest thing to not react to provocation and hurt, but all we can do is to pray for the grace and humility to accept the wrongs we encounter without responding in kind. We will fail many times, but that is why we need to pray and pray some more.