CHRIST ENJOINS US TO ALWAYS EXAMINE OUR CONSCIENCES INSTEAD OF OTHERS’.
First Reading: Sirach 27:4-7; Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:54-58; Gospel: Luke 6: 39-45.
In our society today, many people always want to be applauded for whatever action they take, whether good or bad, and no one likes to be blamed for any reason whatsoever. Besides, to openly admit that we are wrong whenever we err, which seems not to be a value in our culture, is a very difficult thing to do. We often have the propensity to blaming others for whatever goes wrong, but excluding ourselves from the blame. On the other hand, we always want to correct or instruct people on the right thing to do, but our actions often betray our words.
In the Gospel, Jesus Christ puts the question before us: “And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye” (Luke 6:41)? We can easily see the little faults of others, but do not notice our own atrocious acts. Oftentimes, we the preachers (religious and civil leaders) sanctimoniously criticize the evils bedeviling our society, as well as point accusing fingers at people and institutions who supposed to be responsible for whatever problem that is at stake. We can easily ask people to go to confession, to forgive, to be just, but most times, we don’t do them. So, the only idea is that if only others could change their evil ways our society would become a better place.
Furthermore, Jesus Christ instructs us on the need to look inwards into ourselves (introspection or self-examination), because according to Him, the bigger problems of the world as well as the starting point of the solutions to all problem lie within us; since our actions speak louder than our words. In other words, as far as the human problem is concerned, at any giving time and place, the heavier matter lies with us, and not others. The other person who is not us may be part of the problem, but what he or she may have contributed could be qualified as just a speck of the percentage of the whole problem. Compared to the speck in the eyes of the other, what is in our eyes is a log. That is why He further says: “…first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye” (Luke 6:42).
Moreover, looking inward implies: focusing on what lies inside our hearts and minds from where come our own actions, desires, thoughts, feelings, judgments and our perceptions. This is because, according to Ben Sirach in the first reading, what we say and do testify to who we are. What we say, especially about another person, says much more about us than about the other. It reveals our thoughts and values, our attitude and disposition, our motivation and preferences, our way of perceiving and judging.
Undoubtedly, every human person makes mistakes, and no one is perfect. As a matter of fact, Jesus Christ is not saying that we should not condemn evil in our society, but we need to admit our own mistakes first (introspection) before we point accusing finger on someone else’s. To take the plank out of our own eyes first before we can see clearly to remove the speck in our sister’s or brother’s eyes. So, let us stop the habit of blaming or castigating people for our mistakes or societal problems, rather we should always look inwards to see where we might have contributed to the problems in one way or the other, and then accept our weaknesses and pray to God for forgiveness and wisdom to become better persons. If everyone can adopt this habit of self-examination or introspection, then our society would become a peaceable and habitable place.
Finally, St. Paul reminds us in the second reading of the glorious future and the new life that awaits us once we persevere and become steadfast in the Lord. For Jesus Christ has overturned and overcome condemnation and death and opened for us the door of His mercy and love. So, we need to be compassionate, merciful and loving, and not be too judgmental whenever we see things going wrong. Therefore, if we desire a solution or a change, transformation or revolution, the first thing to do is to begin with ourselves. When we get rid of our logs, addressing the speck will be a very easy task.
May the Holy Spirit give us the grace to always examine our consciences properly, love others sincerely and be less judgmental, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Peace of Christ be with you…
Rev. Fr. Ben Okala, C.S.Sp.