March 3, 2019
“From the fullness of the heart the mouths speaks.”
Today, Jesus gives us two ways to act. The first is self-knowledge, the second is to discern right from wrong, evil from good, and act to get rid of the evil and strengthen the good.
There was time when I did not talk to my older brother about religion or politics because he knew what was right and wrong. He didn’t listen to what you said, but was very willing to tell you if you were right or wrong. I really didn’t like that in my brother and was glad that as he grew older he mellowed a bit.
Then one day it hit me – I was just like my brother. I knew right from wrong so didn’t have to listen to anyone else’s side. The only difference was I was quieter than my brother and didn’t talk much. This wooden beam in my eye was blinding me.
It is a bit sobering to discover these kinds of truths about ourselves. It is also a bit freeing, for then we can begin to change, to begin to listen more in depth to what people are really saying. When I realized this blindness, I did begin to try to change, listen more, judge less, enter into dialogue, so what I said would be more thoughtful and considerate. Then any response I might give would be more helpful.
This is what Jesus is trying to get people to do in this gospel story. Become much more aware of who we are, how we act, the biases we hold, the judgments we make. If we can grow into this self-knowledge, then we can see our and others’ faults and in respect and dialogue help the other person, as well as ourselves, grow into greater maturity.
Jesus also advises us that we need to be able to recognize and to discern good from evil. Once we can do this, then we have to act to move against evil and change it or get rid of it, in non-violent ways with respect and compassion. We also need to strengthen the good.
Our country and our church could use more self-aware people working for the common good. For when people become self-aware, they can more easily and with greater depth put others needs first and make sure that all people – especially those who are poorest, most marginalized, most in need – can benefit from the gifts God has given to everyone to use.
All of this – rooting out evil and strengthening the good – takes prayer, work, good judgment, and the ability to work with others. Then the beam in our own eye becomes less and less, and we can see more clearly what we need to do to make things better.
We are encouraged today to come to a deeper self-knowledge, and a deeper discernment of right and wrong, good and evil. Lent begins this Wednesday, a good time to perhaps come to know ourselves better, and strengthen our discernment abilities so as to act responsibly, compassionately, and for the common good.
Jesus is here to help, as he went through these periods of growth himself, and can show us the way. Let us, then, follow Christ this Lent and fill our hearts with love. As Jesus says, “For from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”