Removing the Splinter in Our Eye

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sirach 27: 4-7; 1 Cor 15:54-58; Luke 6: 39-45

Deacon Larry Brockman

So, how many of you have a splinter in your eye?  I don’t see anyone here that suffers from that problem.   

Of course, if I did, I would be guilty of exactly what Jesus is talking about- I would be guilty of concerning myself with the faults of my brothers and sisters rather than being concerned with my own actions and getting rid of my faults.   

You know, it is comforting to compare oneself with others who we perceive have greater faults, isn’t it?  It makes us feel better about ourselves.  It gives us an excuse for staying just the way we are rather than working to make ourselves the best possible person in God’s eyes.  

 I think that’s why scandal and gossip are so attractive to some folks.  It takes the heat off of them; they can consume themselves with judging and ridiculing others and divert attention from themselves.  And so, the world is quick to judge someone who is caught cheating on their spouse; stealing from the cookie jar; or acting irresponsibly in some situation.  And while everyone is busy echoing their outrage at this other person, our own faults get a free ride!  But God is not concerned with who we are relative to others. God is only concerned with who we are in relation to his will for us.   

Now, the irony is that all of us really do need to make judgments, only our judgments should not be condemnations; rather, they need to be discernments about the things that affect our own actions.   

Permit me to explain: Notice Sirach’s words of wisdom: ”When a sieve is shaken, the husks appear; so do one’s faults when one speaks”.  You see it is the influence that the evil people in the world have when they speak out of authority that engenders real evil.  So, we do need to judge; particularly what people say.  We need to put their words and thoughts through a sieve to determine their real intention; to see their real effect; to assure that they don’t lead us astray.   

That’s what Jesus means when He says: “A good person out of the goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil.”  Perhaps an example would help.   

There’s a carefully crafted movement in our society that uses the term “Pro-choice”.  These people make their arguments from a positive perspective- a woman has the right to choose whether she has a baby or not.  Who can be against that- a woman’s right to choose?    But when you put that argument through the sieve, the truth surfaces very quickly.  First, a couple already has the right to choose making the baby or not.  So, they already made the choice.  Second, the sieve exposes the fact that other people’s rights are at stake- the baby’s rights.   

Now I use this example because it is just so clear.  And almost anyone can see how this evil is degrading society- making us more selfish; undermining the family and dulling our sense of guilt for murder.  The events in New York State and Virginia recently are dramatic evidence of all of that.     

But there are so many other subtle evils.  How do we assure we can discern them?   

Well, that’s why Jesus talks about the blind leading the blind.  In fact, consider these evils- euthanasia, pornography, drugs, and gangs.   Many people who sell such evils are blind; they have been seduced by evil and don’t even see it.  And some of most basic needs- food, clothing, and entertainment- are tainted by economic evils like chemical preservatives, slave labor, and cheap thrills.  Yet society buys their products because it is expedient.  And so in fact the blind are leading the blind because most people are not properly equipped to discern, to put their words through a sieve.   

And so what does Jesus say?  He says that “But when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher.”  And that is the secret.    We must be fully trained as disciples of Christ; trained by those we can trust.   The Church has handed down the Gospels and Scriptures as well as the traditional teachings of the great Church Doctors.  That is something we can trust; that’s how we can be prepared to make proper judgments about what we hear.   

If all there is to our lives is the world and what it has to offer, then the selfish standards of the secular world would make sense.  But that is simply not true.    As Paul says in our second reading: “When this which is corruptible clothes itself with incorruptibility…”,  “…then the word that is written shall come about.”  And the word that is written is everlasting life.   

Jesus leaves us with this thought: “For from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.  So then be strong, fully devoted to the work of the Lord.”  And be able to discern what comes from a righteous heart. 


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.