EIGHTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Pride can easily lead to our downfall. Pride causes us to lose sight of our failings while finding fault within the lives of others. It is like walking down a narrow path looking for the forest, but not being able to see the forest because of all the trees. It seems relatively easy for any of us to identify the corrections that should occur in someone else’s life and resisting any effort to recognize and correct our flaws. As Jesus says, we ignore the beam in our eye while glorious describing the splinter in another’s eye.
That does not mean we should always ignore the efforts of others to correct our questionable habits. We are dependent on constructive criticisms to improve the quality of our lives. A teacher rightly corrects her student in the use of proper grammar for a writing assignment. The parent rightly directs a child not to hit his sister. A highway patrolman rightly gives a speeding ticket to a person driving too fast through a school zone. These interventions are designed to amend the practices of an individual that fails to comply with the standards considered to be acceptable within a community. These teachers or authority figures correct their disciples with the desire assist in an improvement in performance.
No one, however, appreciates the continuous feedback of a prideful person who feels justified in pointing out ‘if you do as I say, then you will be…’ or ‘Listen to me because I know all the answers.’ The prideful had no desire to assist anyone other than their status. These are the words of a person with a beam stuck in his or her eye even though their words would indicate a concern about your splinter. For these people, their attempt in correcting others is actually a need to demonstrate their self-worth.
Since no one can live in a state being sinless, how hypocritical it is for us to expect purity in the lives of others. How unfortunately it is when we never see the goodness of others because we are only looking for ways to demean them. If we allow sin to creep into our lives, we can become so accustomed to it that a sinful life seems to become our very being all the while it is wreaking havoc in our lives. We will never see the path through the forest to salvation because all the trees of sin keep blocking the way.
We often allow our sins to interfere with recognizing the right path to take, the path that God desires of us. As a result, we often wander off that narrow road into brambles and thorns and other dangers that threaten our spiritual life. Unless we pray to get right with the Lord, we will surely walk so far away from the path of salvation and fall into the pit of Hell.
When we stumble off the road and into the brambles, we get stuck, enmeshed by sinful acts that tie us up. The bramble of a single venial sin maybe so minor, that we can easily break it and return to the path. However, as we sin more frequently, the brambles become so overwhelming, that no matter which way we turn cannot get away. Our lives become so consumed with the brambles of sin that there seems no way to return to the pure life on that road to salvation. We need a cleansing fire to burn away all those sins. This mighty blaze is the Sacrament to Reconciliation. As we admit to our sinful ways, the brambles are burned away, and relief comes, freeing us from our sins.
Even more dangerous are the thorns of mortal sins that wound us as they drive themselves into our being. Every movement we make the thorns seem to dig themselves deeper and deeper causing us intolerable suffering and pain. As we attempt to free ourselves from these thorny sins, we tear our flesh and tatters our soul so that we are no longer recognizable. We need the healing balm of Jesus to bring us relief to our aching souls that soothe these self-inflicted wounds. The salve for mortal sins is forgiveness of Jesus through Reconciliation. We must turn to him for redemption, strengthening our resolve to resist sin, and to making lasting changes in our lifestyles that lead to the wellbeing of our soul.
It is only through the faith in God alone that we can come to amend our pessimistic attitudes towards others while walking about with a beam in our eye socket. We have enough challenges in selecting the path to salvation we take in our lives without attempting to find the splinter the eyes of others. Only when we first remove our beam can become a reliable guide in assisting others to find salvation, to see the distant forest through the trees.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
In all you ways acknowledge him.
and he will make straight your paths.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be a healing for your flesh
and a refreshment for your body. (Proverbs 3:5-8)
Deacon Dan Gilbert