10 September 2021, Friday of the 23rd Week in the Ordinary Time
Lk 6: 39-42
Last Sunday, Jesus challenged us to open our ears and our mouth so that we can listen to Him and speak with Him and about Him. Today, Jesus emphasizes on the sense of seeing. What are we supposed to see? For as long as we are not vision impaired, we can enjoy looking at the beauty of creation and to meet and greet personally our loved ones (even virtually through a video call). In a word, seeing allows us to engage, to encounter and to experience one another.
But our Gospel reading today talks about seeing in a different sense. Our Lord encourages us to use this sense of vision to see, not only those that our “outside” of us but to see from “within”. When Barbra Streisand had a concert at the Madison Square Garden, she said, “It is very easy to criticize than to appreciate.” Yes, if we are in the position of authority, we can be very harsh and even intimidating at others with our criticisms, comments and suggestions as if we are immaculately conceived while we put others in a box.
The Lord cautions us to avoid this kind of hypocrisy. Thus, Jesus tells us “to remove the wooden beam from our eye first; then we will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.” What meaningful approaches in life can we apply here? When Jesus said “to remove the wooden beam from our eye first; then we will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye”, take the following:
First, see everyone as our brothers and sisters. Our humanity is the common ground to be more compassionate. After confession, Fr Alton Fernandez, SDB told me, “Erwin, by being aware of one’s limitations and weakness, you will become more compassionate with others who, like you, are also struggling and in need of God’s mercy.” If we think that our creed, code and cult secure us for a heavenly passport, we might end up being frustrated for after all, we are journeying in this valley of tears. Be human and our minds will be open and our hearts will become tender.
Second, believe that everything is grace. St Paul, in the 1st Reading, made a very humble confession by saying, “I am grateful to Him who has strengthened me…I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man but I have been mercifully treated… Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant.” Brothers and sisters, instead of asking, “What is grace?’, we better ask, “Who is grace?” St Paul gives witness to this grace not as something but as someone who strengthened him, who is merciful and is so abundant: Jesus Christ. St Teresa of Avila said that spiritual life is all about self-knowledge. If we grounded in the Lord, He will enlighten us on how to integrate our life’s lights and shadows.
Third, be charitable when we give correction. Charity remains the rule (norma normans non normata) so that our giving of correction and criticism can “make” and not “break”. People are people. Let us allow ourselves to enter into the world’s largest room: the room for improvement. To grow and to mature without pretentions is a painful lifelong task. Growth and development never happen instantly. Because it takes a whole lifetime to allow these to happen in us, we open to the Spirit’s bidding: to be patient, to be persevering and to be at peace. And so, correct with love. Comment with love. Criticize because we love.
Humanity. Grace. Love. These are our optics in seeing ourselves clearly so that we can follow Christ closely and love Him more dearly in others especially those who are perfectly imperfect. Are we not one of them? Amen.
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