Franciscan Friar Fr. Paul Gallagher offers us Gospel Reflections for the Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time. The content is edited by Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel. To read or download the complete pdf with excerpts for your prayer, please click here: Franciscan Gospel Reflection February 27 2022. Excerpts are from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Photo: Christ Taking Leave of the Apostles – Disciple (Christianity) – Wikipedia
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 eye? You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your 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.”
This gospel text is a continuation of Jesus’s instruction to his disciples that began two weeks ago with the blessings and woes. That instruction continued last week with Jesus’ instruction to love your enemies and do good to those who cannot repay you.
The human person at the time of Jesus was understood to have three facets, each associated with parts of the body. The eyes and the head were understood as those parts of the body that collected information. The ears and the mouth were looked upon as the centers of self-expression. Lastly, the hands and feet were understood as the parts of the body that put into action what a person had taken in from the eye and the head and was now centered in the heart. The authentic person was the one whose three parts were in harmony. They were also aware that there were those who would deliberately disguise their true self in order to win favor and approval from others.
In the synoptic gospels, Jesus was the only person who used the word hypocrite. In Luke 6:39-42, he used the term to characterize certain people as misguided teachers. He later called the crowd hypocrites, who knew how to accurately read the signs in nature but were unable to predict the present situation. Later in Luke, Jesus would once again use the term “hypocrite” to describe the crowd who criticized him for healing a woman on the Sabbath, while they would rescue an ox or donkey on the sabbath when necessary (Luke 13:15). In both cases, Jesus challenged the crowd to examine what their actions revealed about their interiors. The challenge to see clearly one’s own life is not something to be undertaken with a blind guide.
- Who are the people who have helped you understand yourself, and your relationship to God?
- Have there been individuals who may have acted like mentors, but who you eventually learned were not truly helpful?
- Are there people who look to you as a mentor for their life? How does having that role for others affect you?
- When you hear Jesus call some people hypocrites in today’s gospel, what happens within you?
- What do you hear Jesus saying to you when he exhorts his disciples to remove the beam in their own eye before removing the splinter in the eye of another?
- Can you talk to God honestly about your desire to see the truth of your own life, the parts of your life that you find difficult to talk about, or some other aspect of your own life that arose as you read this gospel?