“Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? …You hypocrite first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour’s eye.” These are not easy words to shallow, however, Jesus uses them not in order to humiliate, but to raise our consciousness to face our hypocrisy. So, courage! come, let’s see what’s in there for us.
Sirach 27: 4–7
Psalm 92: 2–3, 13–16
1 Corinthians 15: 54–58
Luke 6: 39–45
Do I shut my mouth?
“…first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour’s eye.” Some difficulty here! Does it mean I can say something about another person’s behaviour only if I have nothing to reproach myself for? But I’m not perfect, I shall never be! So, do I seal my mouth and watch the other go astray? What becomes then of my responsibility as my brother’s keeper?
Let’s see what’s behind this admonition. Jesus observes, and discovers the behaviour of the pharisees who are well known to be law abiding Jews. For that, they put themselves in good books, as morally upright, and despise those who don’t follow the law with the same rigour. Consequently, their religious talk becomes condescending, in form of a moral lesson given to poor sinner. But Jesus says, stop a minute!
True, you make good effort in observing the law, but does that mean you have no sin? He reminds them, they too have something to put in order in their own lives. Jesus is not against, we can safely say, the genuine intention to speak when we mean to correct and to help someone erring. In fact, it’s Christian. However, the manner we in which we do it can make a lot of difference. That’s why he warns: no judging others, and no bathing in puritanical pretentions.
So, how can I help without being hypocrite?
Here we have a teaching about living in a Christian community, and probably this situation manifested itself among the early Christians. Such arrogance of exuding moral superiority over others may be found also among us today. Hence, the Gospel comes as a remedy.
Of course, we should be concerned when one of our brothers or sisters errs -certainly we should speak about it. But the intention and the manner we do it matter a lot. I admire the way some peaceful demonstrators walk -holding each other by the shoulders as they advance together. Each person, as part of the group, is sustained by the others. Wouldn’t that be a beautiful image of journeying together as Christians?
Sometimes we sin, make mistakes and drift off the road but we shouldn’t feel abandoned. On our side are brothers and sisters who should be there, not as judges, but as companions to help us see what’s happening in our lives. They are there to bring the best out of us and enable us to carry on. If only that’s case always!
It happens, unfortunately, instead of giving a helping hand we content ourselves to be crime investigators of others; ever on the look-out for faults in order to condemn. All that we manage to achieve by such self-righteousness is humiliate those who act differently from us. That’s why Jesus seems to be telling us, put down your binoculars, which keep you busy peeping at what’s happening miles away; look at yourself now. Perhaps, we are not better than those we condemn. That makes me think of a cock.
But what does the cock have to do with hypocrisy?
I wonder how familiar you are with a cock, but he can be quite dominating in the poultry -he really behaves like a chief. Besides, he tolerates no competition from smaller cocks who dare to challenge him. He alone has the right to crow. In his pride, and desiring to be seen and be heard, he perches himself on some platform. Indeed, don’t stars perform on the platform where everyone can see and admire them? Well, the cock does the same, though there’s something special about his stage. If only he can spare, even a second, to look down and see where his feet are resting. Then, you can understand the critic against the hypocrisy of a person who behaves like a cock. Why? It’s because the cock would be showing off while its feet are stuck in the dung heap. Obviously, he’s not aware of the weirdness of his action.
Facing hypocrisy, look at your feet
Aren’t there things that escape our vigilance too? Hence the importance of the analogy that Jesus gives in the Gospel. Talking of a log in the eye is certainly an exaggeration, nevertheless, it serves the purpose; to awaken us from the slumber of self-righteousness which makes us ruthless judges against others. Jesus says, my dear cock, look at your feet -most likely you will find plenty reasons to be humble, and finally, you will be also less disparaging towards others.
Thank Jesus for you word that invites me to look down at my feet and see where I’m standing. Help me to understand that being a Christian is not entering a competition; it’s rather, it’s a journey of brothers and sisters who walk, hand in hand, supporting one another.
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