Let us now begin as we have before.
Remember that we are in the holy presence of God
St John Baptist De La Salle… Pray for us
Live Jesus in our hearts … Forever!
Have you ever heard this phrase? “Look, I just want to say this for your own good.”
Do these or similar words press the “BEWARE” button in us?
The answer probably depends on who’s saying it, and the tone, in which they say the phrase.
If it’s someone you know well and a person of good heart and integrity, we might be willing to
listen to their constructive criticism, but if we sense destructive superiority and self-righteousness in their words, we probably don’t and won’t want to listen or hear what they have to say.
Do we size up people long before we get to know them?
Here is a small example a small story from a blog I found on the internet.
A bishop from New York was sailing for Europe. As he went aboard the large ocean liner, he found that another passenger was going to be sharing a cabin with him.
After looking around his quarters, he went back up to the purser’s desk and asked if he could leave his gold watch and other valuables in the ship’s safe.
He explained that ordinarily he never did this sort of thing, but he had been to his cabin and had met the man who would occupy the other bed and judging from his appearance, he was afraid that he might not be a very trustworthy person.
The purser accepted the responsibility of caring for valuables and remarked,
“It’s alright bishop. I’ll be very glad to take care of them for you. The other man has just been up here and deposited all his valuables for the same reason.”
In today’s Gospel Jesus asks can a blind person guide a blind person ‘the blind leading the blind’ not really a great idea but are we guilty of doing just that in our lives?
Jesus calls hypocrites, “those who notice a tiny splinter in another’s eye but are blind to the plank in their own”. I don’t know about you but that’s got to hurt. Sure, makes my eyes water just thinking about it. Thinking about it I find myself looking out instead of looking in.
The first reading from Sirach, also, emphasizes this gospel message of self-awareness.
“So too does one’s speech disclose the bent of one’s mind.”
When put to the test, the decisions we make reflect what’s going on in our hearts and minds in hearing these words you are getting the essence of the parable.
*As an aside today’s readings only come in year C on the 8th Sunday in Ordinary time which does not happen often in the liturgical cycles. In fact, only twice since 1970.
These readings put a spotlight on how I am.
I know I am guilty of smugness I just bleat out my point of view to others sometimes with very little background information. A common Tom phrase would be “what you ought to do is…”.
We have seen in the past few decades with social media and the talking heads in all media that the world is swimming in an ocean of self-righteousness. Many see themselves as experts when clearly, they are not.
At times we are unaware or just ignore our shortcomings while decrying the faults of others.
As humans we sometimes negative and hostile. We can have the habit of focusing on the bad side of everything especially the bad side of people. We’re pruned to criticize and find fault.
Is it because we are looking for a perfect person without blemish?
Sorry friends, “He who would find a friend without fault will never find one.”
The reason, simple: there is no one without fault and there is no ideal human, only the real person.
I constantly hear myself saying “what happened to respect”? and an old saying, “if you don’t have something nice to say then say nothing at all”. Those phrases are there in my mind ready to pay attention to but often I get that ‘plank’ in my eye and do not heed them.
Well, it’s hard to silence a Ficker. Just ask my sister.
The appealing thing about faultfinding in others is that it takes the focus off our own deficiencies and helps us to feel ever so self-righteous. It feels better to criticize others than being criticized ourselves; so, when criticizing others do, we remember the hurt we feel when the tables are turned?
Instead of criticizing others, why not care for them?
Close my mind to what’s going on around me and listen. Not only to what they are saying but also to what they are trying to say with or without words. By caring for them, we won’t impose our views, our plans, ideas, and our judgment.
Good grief do I really have all the answers?
Do I know the pain or confusion going on inside this person? Is my advice or solution really needed?
Many of you know I lived in this area on 39th Avenue for 42 years. Berti and I raised our family in a house that needed lots of repair updating and with kids, a plethora of maintenance. During that time, I had to learn to handle the fixes myself.
Berti handled the brood while I learned how to apply duct tape and spackle. Over time I learned (without You Tube) and I got pretty good at fixing things. I thought I could handle the big tasks too. Soon realizing that time and money and my own limitations put me in my place. Problem here is I could tell you what you ought to do but all the while never looking inside my own self, that I couldn’t fix everything especially me. At times I wasn’t even aware I needed the ‘fix’. Today I continue working on my inner fix through my wife, family, and friends slowly committing to learn by listening. It’s a process that has taken 72 years, but I still have some time left.
Given that, to care for others, maybe I won’t jump at every opportunity to point out blunders.
If I care for them, we can grow in trust and love and show each other how talented, capable, industrious, genuine, original, creative, skilled, friendly, trustworthy, resourceful, good, and lovable those persons are.
If we LISTEN to Jesus, and become disciples, it is explained for us. don’t be the blind leading the blind. listen instead to find out if they need guidance. Remember no disciple is superior to the teacher, but when fully trained, every disciple will be like the teacher. I need to know myself first before thinking or reacting to a given stimulus or situation.
Jesus asks us to search as carefully as possible for our own faults as we do for the faults of others.
Because when we are aware of our own weaknesses and strive to overcome them, knowing that we also have faults we are slow to judge and swift to give the benefit of the doubt.
The Greek philosopher Socrates said that nature has given us two ears, two eyes and only one tongue so that we should hear more than we speak.
But in this world, it’s the opposite, we speak more, and we hear less.
So, if we cannot say something good about another person, then it is better to remain silent.
And quoting W.G. Benham “Speaking without thinking is shooting without aiming.”
Ash Wednesday begins this week, and we will also begin the journey of the Synod 2023.
where we will learn more through encountering others, listening to them and discerning where we go from there.
There is much to learn about ourselves, join me my friends in working on care and not judgement.
So who is going to be next?
We seek to respond to the call of the Church herself, that all the faithful are expected to reflect on God’s Word and interpret it back to the community.