‘Take the plank out of your own eye first’
Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
In this reading Jesus speaks about the need to recognise our own faults before criticising others. Fr Adrian Graffy reflects.
39 Jesus told a parable to his disciples. ‘Can one blind man guide another? Surely both will fall into a pit? 40 The disciple is not superior to his teacher; the fully trained disciple will always be like his teacher. 41 Why do you observe the splinter in your brother’s eye and never notice the plank in your own? 42 How can you say to your brother, “Brother, let me take out the splinter that is in your eye,” when you cannot see the plank in your own? Hypocrite! Take the plank out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take out the splinter that is in your brother’s eye.
43 ‘There is no sound tree that produces rotten fruit, nor again a rotten tree that produces sound fruit. 44 For every tree can be told by its own fruit; people do not pick figs from thorns, nor gather grapes from brambles. 45 A good man draws what is good from the store of goodness in his heart; a bad man draws what is bad from the store of badness. For a man’s words flow out of what fills his heart.’
Other readings: Ecclesiasticus 27:4-7 Psalm 91 (92) 1 Corinthians 15:54-58
We continue reading from Luke’s collection of the teaching of Jesus known as the ‘Sermon on the Plain’. Jesus speaks first about the teacher and the disciple. If the teacher does not see clearly he will not be able to guide the disciple. And the disciple must respect his teacher, and be willing to learn.
We need clear sight for ourselves too. We tend to prefer correcting others to recognizing our own faults. We can be blind to so much in ourselves and still insist on correcting others. Once again, Jesus is stressing the need for the teacher to be a disciple first, to learn lessons, and then to give them.
The following verses speak of good and bad fruit. The teacher, and every faithful disciple, must produce good fruit. A good heart is necessary. This will be obvious when someone speaks, and, as the first reading from Ecclesiasticus maintains, conversation and speech are the ‘test of men’.
Am I more willing to direct others than to learn for myself?
Do I fool myself with false judgements about myself?
Let us pray for honesty and humility, and a readiness to learn especially from the poor and the inadequate.
Let us seek always to speak with integrity.