The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
February 27th, 2022 – Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Luke 6:39-45
Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.
I cannot imagine what it would be like to have a large piece of wood stuck in one’s eye. But Jesus could (remember he was once a carpenter) and he used this image to remind us that the first responsibility we have in matters of spirituality and religion is to first, take care of our own lives first. Not others. He knew that sometimes religious people can become quite judgmental, focusing on and judging those around them rather than themselves.
In that sense, it is not inappropriate to place oneself first when it comes to life with God. That’s what it means to be responsible before God. Examine your own life, your thoughts and values, your judgments and your actions. Don’t worry about others. Let them deal with their own lives. In other words, judge yourself first and don’t judge others.
Jesus uses a very telling word in today’s gospel to describe those who get things wrong. He calls them hypocrites. That word goes back to ancient Greece where it referred to actors on the stage. They wore masks to hide their real identity. In other words, what was shown in public was not the real person, the one who hid behind the mask. Back then it did not have a religious connotation.
But in the Middle Ages, the word took on a new meaning that applied to seemingly religious people. It referred to someone who in public presented a positive image, but in private (or in reality) was immoral, a fraud, fully deceitful. This gospel is not intended for us to identify and root out those we might judge as hypocrites. In fact, its intent is the opposite. It is directed to us.
We are told to look in the mirror and judge how well each of us in doing regarding our lives with God and others. Are we truthful, compassionate, forgiving and generous in our care for others? Especially those needing our help. Or are we like some of those Pharisees in the time of Jesus who paraded around in religious garb, made a big deal about appearing to the public as pious and holy, but were really selfish and judgmental persons? He referred to them as wolves in sheep’s clothing. They were fakes.
We are approaching the sacred season of Lent. Each year the Church invites us to consider how we are doing with God and with God’s intent for all of us, especially each of us individually. It is a season of retreat. A time for honesty and certainly not hypocrisy.
©David M. Thomas, PhD