Dear Friends in Jesus Christ…,
C.S. Lewis wrote, “There is someone I love, even though I don’t approve of what he does. There is someone I accept, though some of his thoughts and actions revolt me. There is someone I forgive, though he hurts the people I love the most. That person is me.” Jesus said to us in today’s Gospel, “You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.” Jesus condemns our careless, malicious and rash judgments about the behavior, feelings, motives or actions of others by using the funny examples of one blind man leading another blind man and one man with a log stuck in his eye, trying to remove a tiny speck from another’s eye. In order to lead a blind person, one must be sighted; in order to teach, one must be knowledgeable; otherwise the blind person and the student will be lost. The sight and the knowledge specified here are the insights that come through Faith and the Holy Spirit, and the knowledge that comes from a Faith-filled relationship with the Lord. The point of this image of the blind leading the blind is that we must be careful when choosing whom to follow, lest we stumble into a pit alongside our blind guide. A corollary is that we have no business trying to guide others unless we ourselves can see clearly. This is an important message in a day when so many self-appointed gurus vie for control of our spiritual affairs, our financial affairs, our medical affairs, our romantic affairs, our family affairs. Some are blind, but others see our vulnerabilities—see where they can take advantage of us. When choosing a guide—particularly a spiritual guide—it pays to be very, very careful. This is why it is so important to go in for regular “eye exams.” Every day, Christians should go to God, our spiritual Eye Doctor, to ask Him to check our vision. As we get into the Word, as we pray, He corrects our sight, and He shows us what to watch out for. It is vitally important that we have this regular “eye exam,” because we are not alone in the car. There are people who trust us to lead them to safety. It may be our children, or our spouse. It may be a friend. It may be people in the Church or community who are following where we lead. If we lead them off a cliff because of poor vision, God will hold us accountable. Listen to the words of Paul in Romans 2:19-23. “If you are confident that you are a guide for the blind and a light for those in darkness, that you are a trainer of the foolish and teacher of the simple, because in the law you have the formulation of knowledge and truth, then you who teach another, are you failing to teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who forbid adultery, do you commit adultery? You who detest idols, do you rob temples? You who boast of the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?” The first reason Jesus gives us is we have no right to criticize unless we ourselves are free of faults. That simply means that we have no right to criticize at all, because “there is so much bad in the best of us and so much good in the worst of us that it ill becomes any of us to find fault with the rest of us.” After a minister preached a sermon on spiritual gifts, he was greeted at the door by a lady who said, “Pastor, I believe I have the gift of criticism.” He looked at her and asked, “Remember the person in Jesus’ parable who had the one talent? Do you recall what he did with it?” “Yes,” replied the lady, “he went out and buried it.” With a smile, the pastor suggested, “Go thou, and do likewise!” That is what we have to do with our habit of judging and prejudices.
Let us pray “O Father, give us the humility which realizes its ignorance, admits its mistakes, recognizes its need, welcomes advice, accepts rebuke. Help us always to praise rather than to criticize, to sympathize rather than to discourage, to build rather than to destroy, and to think of people at their best rather than at their worst. This we ask for your name’s sake.”
God Bless You,