June 21, 2013
Dear brothers and sisters,
I am taking the good news today from Luke 6:41-42.
“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.”
Jesus’ disciples, though chosen and called, didn’t get a free pass. He was as hard on them as he was the Pharisees, scribes, and elders — even calling both groups hypocrites at different times. That’s because we’re all the same flawed, cracked creatures but still all children of God. None of us is better than another and woe to those who criticize and condemn others for they do not acknowledge their own imperfections. If they did, they wouldn’t be so quick to judge; they would be a lot more humble and forgiving.
In fact, those who judge and criticize others or give unbidden advice have not learned the lessons that Jesus teaches. That includes pretty much all of us; I know it includes me. I think this is one of the important lessons that Jesus gives me because when I judge or criticize others, I am not being compassionate. When I am not compassionate I am not loving, let alone accepting. Actually, in judging and criticizing others I am attempting to elevate myself in my own eyes and others’. It is an un-self-conscious, deluded way of denying my own need for healing, reconciliation, and forgiveness. That’s an obstacle I pose to the creation of God’s kingdom here on earth. As Rohr writes in The Good News According to Luke, “Jesus can’t create a New People without reconciliation and healing.”
Regarding my delusion Sanford in The Kingdom Within adds, “Clearly the eye here represents consciousness. If our consciousness is affected by something we do not see and are not dealing with, we are scarcely in a position to try to correct someone else….All true morality springs from the clarity of consciousness. All else is done in darkness and leads to distortions, not to love.”
How do I find that clarity and how can I accept others? It comes about in multiple ways, I think. Christ Renews His Parish and similar experiences are helpful in this regard. I think that in examining and sharing my own struggles and my faith journey I come to greater clarity of consciousness. That’s the first step — removing the wooden beam in my own eye. That enables me to take the next step — removing the splinter from my brother’s eye. However, that doesn’t mean correcting them. It means being able to accept them and reflecting back to them the goodness that God created in them. I believe that’s the value in hearing the stories of others. By creating a place in my heart to receive their struggles with their own imperfections I am able to identify and empathize with them and, in doing so, accept and love them. It’s a virtuous cycle and what I think Jesus is trying to accomplish — accepting and loving ourselves and one another instead of judging and being called hypocrites.