The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home by Dr. David M. Thomas
March 3, 2019 – Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Luke 6:39-45
Recently I was having a routine medical exam that involved an analysis of my blood. Before sharing the results of the test with me, my physician asked me if I wanted to really know the results. I was a bit taken back by her inquiry, so I asked her why she asked me. She smiled and said that some patients seem to prefer good news to truthful news. Especially when it involved themselves and their health.
Her insight into human nature came to my mind in reading today’s gospel. Jesus is teaching his followers (us) about honest communication. Full communication, he noted, includes being honest with oneself. He uses that great image of the log and the splinter. We tend to clearly see the tiny splinter in our neighbor’s eye but fail to see the giant log (or beam) in our own. Honesty with oneself can be challenging. Especially if we have something we would rather hide.
I have been a teacher for most of my professional life. Early on, I read books that described successful teaching methods. I wanted to learn if there were any tricks to the trade. I learned that there were. The most important truth was this: Love your students and always be honest with them. They will more likely remember you than what you taught.
These can be hard lessons to accept. It’s all too easy to deny personal responsibility for our actions. We too easily blame others and the “other” can be as silly as the weather, what we ate, our less-than-perfect ancestors or “the breaks of the game.” We often find it difficult to admit to our personal shortcomings. Or to blame ourselves.
Jesus is concerned with our being honest with ourselves because he wants us all to be good communicators of his message. We deliver his message through our words and actions. All of them. Especially his message of kindness, forgiveness and love to all those we meet each day, even to strangers. Our example as caring parents, neighbors and co-workers says so much more about God and us than do our words.
When Pope Saint Paul VI wrote about communicating the gospel message to others in his teaching about evangelization (something we are all supposed to do), he said that the primary way the gospel is communicated is through witnessing. That happens through how we live, more than in what we say. He also noted that evangelization happens in the family where parents evangelize their children, but also, children evangelize their parents.
©David M. Thomas, PhD