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.
Rev Dr Adrian Graffy is a member of the Vatican Commission that takes a lead in Bible scholarship, interpretation and promotion in the Catholic Church.
Rev Dr Graffy said of his five-year appointment by Pope Francis in 2014: “It is an honour to be nominated by Pope Francis as a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. I feel humbled and very much look forward to being of service to His Holiness and the Church.”
He added: “A great deal has been achieved in England and Wales in recent years by many co-workers to advance Biblical scholarship and the provision of easy-to-use resources. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them and the Bishops’ Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis for their efforts to promote understanding and love of the Bible, particularly through the publication of the teaching documents, The Gift of Scripture and the study guide to Verbum Domini, The Word of the Lord.”
Rev Dr Graffy received his doctorate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in 1983. He taught for over 20 years in St John’s Seminary in Wonersh, and is Chair of the National Scripture Working Group, which is an instrument of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Fr Graffy is a past director of Brentwood’s Commission for Evangelisation and Formation and parish priest of Christ the Eternal High Priest in Gidea Park, Essex. Among his publications are the Gospel of Mark and the Letter to the Romans (Alive Publishing).
Listen to BBC Essex interview with Fr Adrian Graffy