Reflections

EIGHTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (2019)

EIGHTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (2019)

Readings:

Sirach 27:4-7

Psalms 92:2-3, 13-16

1 Corinthians 15:54-58

Luke 6:39-45

It is worth asking, if I am not supposed to judge my brothers and sisters, then how can I discern what is good or bad? After all, it was only last week when we heard Jesus proclaim in Sunday’s gospel, “Stop judging and you will not be judged.” In our earthly pilgrimage true discernment is an absolute necessity if we are not to be led astray by the things of this world. Surely Jesus is not suggesting that we abandon genuine discernment of what is good or what is bad?

We know from Jesus’ teaching enshrined in the gospels, especially His parables, that His disciples are encouraged to develop discernment, a ‘judgement’ of sorts, about what is good and what is bad, about what is right and what is wrong. Jesus’ exhortation to “stop judging” is not aimed at people’s discernment. Rather, it is aimed at the tendency of some to move from that discernment about peoples’ actions or words, to a judgement about the person’s goodness or lack thereof. It is the hypocrisy of judging that Jesus attacks, something we see so often in his confrontations with the Scribes and Pharisees. With Thomas Aquinas we believe that hypocrisy is a sin against truth, for we so often want to seem to be what we are not. When we judge others it is as though we have forgotten how sinful we ourselves are. An honest assessment of our own lives should cause us to realize that only God is devoid of sinfulness, and God alone is capable of judging.

We all surely know people “who relish punishing the least sins of those who are put under them, [but] leave their own [sins] unpunished” (Desert Father Theophylact). They are the “blind guides” spoken of by Jesus in Luke’s gospel. Saint Basil the Great spoke of the importance of self-reflection calling it “most important” for the Christian. Basil states that very often “not only the eye, looking at outward things, fails to use its sight upon itself, but our understanding also, though very quick in apprehending the sin of another, is slow to perceive its own defects.” Jesus’ comic image of a person with a “wooden beam” in their own eye trying to remove the “splinter” in a brother’s eye is striking, and highlights the hypocrisy of those excessively concerned about other’s faults while doing nothing to better one’s own life.

Today’s readings also instruct us to share our Christian life, love, and spiritual health by our words, and to avoid gossiping about, and passing rash, thoughtless and pain-inflicting judgments on others, thus damaging their good reputation and causing them irreparable harm. As our first reading from the Book of Sirach asserts: “The fruit of a tree shows the care it has had; so too does one’s speech disclose the bent of one’s mind. Praise no one before he speaks, for it is then that people are tested.” The agricultural imagery is also in our Responsorial Psalm where we are told we will “flourish” if we are “planted in the house of the Lord.” Those who live in the Lord “shall bear fruit even in old age.” That same agricultural imagery is used by Jesus who reminds His disciples that “a good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit.”

St. Bede the Venerable spoke clearly of how our words and deeds manifest what lies deep within a person, stating that “the treasure of the heart is the same as the root of the tree. A person who has a treasure of patience and of perfect charity in his heart yields excellent fruit; he loves his neighbor and has all the other qualities Jesus teaches; he loves his enemies, does good to him who hates him, blesses him who curses him, prays for him who calumniates him, does not react against him who attacks him or robs him; he gives to those who ask, does not claim what they have stolen from him, wishes not to judge and does not condemn, corrects patiently and affectionately those who err.”

Jesus calls us and His disciples today, in the words of our second reading, to “be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord.” To be fully ‘rooted’ in the Lord, will guard us against the dangers of rashly judging others, and will give us the mirror image of Jesus which we can use to measure ourselves, in order that we might see ourselves as God sees us. Truly living in the Lord will dispel any chance of falling victim to the hypocrisy of the Scribes and Paharisees, and it will cause us to be “fully trained,” becoming like the most excellent of teachers, our Lord, Jesus Christ.

1 thought on “EIGHTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (2019)”

  1. I do not know too many people who are like the man in the gospel——we usually react when we are hurt or angry and disagree with someone–and they don’t listen to our viewpoints either–they seem deaf to what we think or feel—and we are deaf to them-

    how often do we do good to those who do not like us or even perhaps hate us??? Perhaps we avoid them——— but it is better to question them- talk to them–hear what they have to say— and maybe get them to see us as the people we really wish to be—-
    It is not easy-
    but we can clear the air if we have that talk —-and if we listen to what others have to say to us – hear the problem they deal with from their own eyes and heart
    ——— maybe we have misunderstood them or discover they have misunderstood us?
    It is best to clear it up with a long talk if need be and admit to our failings and they can admit to theirs – judge not lest we be judged –

    I once had a disagreement with my sister in law—a wonderful woman —— I didn’t like something she had done—instead of telling her I dug in my heels and was mad and didn’t care if we ever spoke to her again and for sure I wasn’t going to like her the way i had liked her before this happened—or the way I once respected respected her——-
    one day she called me on the phone———- she knew things were not good between us and ”could we talk?”—-she asked me what I was mad about–she didn’t even know what it was——- I had not planned to tell her since i thought she should know without being told – but I did tell her —-it wasn’t easy———-
    when i said it to her I heard the problem myself as I spoke and she cleared it up by saying she never intended it that way—– she would never do that to hurt me, she said—-she explained it and I heard her–
    —- a little phone call helped solve the problem and we remained good friends once again—–
    she was like St Bede —-”the treasure of the heart is at the root of the tree-” perfect charity yields good fruit”
    she could have let it go and not called and I could have been mad at her and had something between us that hurt our friendship–I am galad she did call me and set it right again.

    Maybe in reaching out in painful hurtful matters like this– we will reach the fruit that is there on the end of the limb! I wonder had this been in reverse would I have made thephone call to her????

    That would have been difficult too…
    we say we are all rooted in Jesus so we should not reshly judge others—
    when we hold up that mirror we want to see the image of a Christ like person!
    I see my sister in laws actions that day as how she really was——–it wasn’t easy for her to do it but she had good roots!
    Not sure why I shared this——but maybe that we re look at things from both sides once again so that peace and happiness can come again/
    amen.

    Like

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