“Can a blind man act as guide to a blind man? Will they not both fall into a ditch? A student is not above his teacher; but every student when he has finished his studies will be on a par with his teacher. Why look at the speck in your brother’s eye when you miss the plank in your own? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck from your eye,’ yet fail yourself to see the plank lodged in your own? Hypocrite, remove the plank from your own eye first; then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Luke 6:39-42
A wise saying attributed to Socrates states that the unexamined life is not worth living. The practice of examining one’s life is most important to us Christians. In this reading we are invited to honest self-examination – and healthy self-criticism – regarding our life as disciples of Christ.
The main danger we face is that we are much more likely to examine the lives of others than our own. So often we are assessing the minute flaws of others, all the while evading our responsibility for our own glaring faults. In his love for us, Jesus points out to us that this tendency makes us hypocrites. We are not to judge others, that we may not be judged. Any judging we are to do is properly directed toward ourselves.
How important it is that we first put our own inner house in order! Our character and spiritual maturity are most affected by what we do interiorly. If we keep harboring a “plank” in the eyes of our hearts, we will not be able to see well enough to help others.
When we examine ourselves in all honesty, we discover that, in fact, we have not one plank but many! Some are bigger than others. For example, we live with narrow expectations by which we determine what is correct and acceptable behavior in others. Or we assume we know something about another person and his motives, without taking time to listen to him. Or we project our own needs and desires onto others, concluding that they must need what we think we need. Or we are so attached to our own agenda that we are blind to possibilities that will benefit others. These are all planks. Jesus says that we have the duty to help one another, including fraternal correction. But our ability to carry out our duty is thwarted if we cannot see clearly.
How do we remove our “planks”? We depend on grace first of all, light from God. Once the light of Christ’s grace shines on us, we can begin to see – if we humble ourselves and repent, when we see ourselves in the light of God’s mercy, we see everything more clearly. He is gradually and continually teaching us to see what He sees. This is an immeasurable gift from God that we must share with others. (Excerpted from Anawim, Sept 13, 2013)
Reflection/Sharing: What “planks” are there in my life which need to be removed? Have I opened my heart to the mercy of God in those areas? When others are weak and are acting wrongly, do I reach out in mercy, or am I just judgemental?