Man, know yourself
- Jesus told his disciples a parable,
“Can a blind person guide a blind person?
Will not both fall into a pit? No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher.Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?
How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’ when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own?
You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your own eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.
“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. For people do not pick figs from thornbushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles. A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks” (Lk6:39-42). Taken from today’s Sunday (8c)gospel.
- We are invited today by the readings to meditate on our attitude towards others with regard to the faults that we discover in them. The first reading tells us that we can discern the quality of a person only by the content of his words. It is when a man speaks that we enter into his thoughts. So people should only be evaluated based on their speech. But what’s the point of spending one’s time getting to know others if one does not know oneself?
The gospel therefore invites us to first perfect ourselves before looking for the short comings of others. If we commit to scrutinizing others, we end up judging, criticizing and condemning them. There is a tendency among people to easily class others as bad. I read a story of a man who was supposed to travel by boat and when he got to his cabin he learned that he will be sharing the cabin with another traveler. Without even taking the time to know the other, he concluded that he is a thief. So the man went to the ship’s customer service department and demanded that his golden watch and other valuables be kept for him, claiming he didn’t trust his cabin mate. The service agreed to render the service while at the same time telling him that his companion had already done the same thing. Many people behave like these men. They think that others are bad while they are the righteous ones.
This attitude of viewing others as evil is what Jesus condemns in the Gospel. Jesus finds men to be hypocrites who take an interest in the affairs of others without making the effort to improve their own. What we criticize in others is often less serious than what we do ourselves. The paradox is that when we focus on others we no longer see our own faults. But, “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, when you do not notice the beam that is in your eye? How can you say to your brother: let me remove the speck that is in your eye, when you cannot see the beam that is in yours?” Jesus’ point is that each of us has faults and that it is better to work at being a better person than to bother to find fault in others. Often the things that annoy us in others are also the same faults that inhabit us but we are always ready to offer explanations for our shortcomings but not for those of others.
- Spending time discussing the faults of others is a temptation that awaits us all and it is easy to fall into it, but that is precisely what Jesus does not want in his disciples. Instead of taking pleasure in speaking or listening, we must rather defend the absent. For example, when you are told that such a person does such things, instead of showing interest in hearing more, you simply have to say that you do not believe what you are told and go further to defend the person. We can also point out the good quality of the person we know that the other seems to ignore. When we love a person, we are always ready to excuse his faults. At the base of all criticism is lack of love.
Moreover, when we judge someone we judge him/her from our point of view without knowing what the person is going through. I read the story of a school boy who was often dirty, late and distracted during class. His teacher seeing this criticized him in front of the others and the others criticized him too. Nobody asked him for an explanation, but this guy had a single mother who was suffering from terminal cancer, which means that the young boy had no one to take care of him properly. If we don’t make the effort to understand others, we always end up condemning them. So, instead of criticizing, you have to love and approach the one you tend to criticize.
Try not to get upset by the faults you find in others, look rather for their goodness and encourage them to develop them further. The Greek philosopher, Socrates said that “God gave us two ears and two eyes and only one mouth and one tongue so that we would speak twice less than we see or hear.” Do not be among those who speak more than they see or hear. Just know yourself. ©Vita, 27/02/22.