ST. MARY THE MOTHER OF GOD CATHOLIC CHURCH

370 East Main Street
PO Box 7
Wytheville, VA 24382
Phone: (276) 228-3104
Fax: (276) 228-3322
officemanager@stmaryswytheville.com

Welcome to the Pastor's Desk

8thSunC

One day unexpectedly a priest meet one of his parishioners on the street, the parish priest said, “I haven't seen you in church for a long time, Johnny. What happened?” I’ve stopped going to church. There are so many hypocrites there.” Then the priest jokingly said, Well, there’s always room for one more ( hypocrite).”

If one goes to church and he expects for righteous and sinless people there, that might be impossible. For none of us is perfect. Each has his own particular faults and failings.

Jesus in the gospel seems to be speaking categorically that we must be perfect before we must correct others.

“How can you say, ‘brother, let me remove the speck in your eye, ‘

yet cannot see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite! remove

first the log in your eye, and then you will be able to see clearly

to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Lk 6:42)

What does Jesus mean by this? You know, Jesus understood our human nature very well. He recognizes our weaknesses. He knows well that no one with authority or responsibility, he may be a pope or president, parent or priest is perfect.

Although as people charged with responsibility, we must strive to show a good example or be credible in order to command respect, our Lord is telling us by the figure of speech to avoid a superiority complex, a “holier than thou” attitude. Just like the person with a “log in his eye” is the one who thinks he is better than everyone else.

Likewise, it is very easy to find fault with things and people. No matter how good a person or a thing may be, it’s no difficult to find some fault with them.

And while it is easy to find faults in others, it is just as easy to overlook our own (faults). Or as Jesus says in today’s gospel: “We see the speck in another’s eye, but we don’t see the log in our own.” And notice the difference, a speck compared to a log. A little fault compared with a really big one. Why is it like that. Does it show we are naturally jealous? or envious? or basically negative and critical? Not knowing, sometimes we have lived with our own faults for so many years that we have grown accustomed to them, or perhaps have never known that we had this problem?

Several Sundays ago one of the Mass readings was St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (l Cor. 12, 12-27) in which St. Paul describes the Mystical Body of Christ. As baptized Christians, we are part of the same Mystical Body. And St. Paul makes note of how different each one of us is. “God put our bodies together in such a way that even the parts that seem the least important are valuable. He did this to make all parts of the body work together smoothly, with each part caring about the others.” It is nice to think that each of us born of Christ in baptism is so intimately connected with each other that there is a unity.

But this is not a natural unity. By natural birth, our fallen nature seems to oppose many areas of the Mystical Body. We tend not to see the good in others as much as we see the bad. We misjudge the actions of others very easily. We allow certain biases to arise that prevent us from ever being close to some people. In fact, there may be some individuals whose mere presence make us uncomfortable or even disgusted. Such attitudes and reactions are certainly not compatible with the notion of the Mystical Body of Christ.

Today’s gospel from St. Luke follows the last Sunday's gospel, Jesus continues his beautiful explanation of unconditional love whereby we are to love even our enemies. This kind of love is not natural. It can come only with the grace of God and as a result of much work and effort. But this is precisely the challenge of today’s gospel for each one of us. To be so positive of all other people that we can accept them for who and what they are, that we can overcome those occasions when we tend to misjudge others, that we can stress the good in others and hope they can do the same for us.

The Greek philosopher Socrates says that nature has given us two ears, two eyes, and only one tongue so that we should hear more than we speak. But sometimes it’s the opposite, we speak more and we hear less especially if a good man commits wrongs even once and all his good works are gone and erased. So if we cannot say something good about another person, then it is better to remain silent.

To end this sharing I would like to give some thoughts for reflection. There are three sayings:

“Speaking without thinking is shooting without aiming.” (W.G. Benham)

“Think twice before you speak and then say to yourself.”

“Judge people from where they stand, not from where you stand.”