Introduction: Today’s Scripture readings are full of sayings, some from the Old Testament or Hebrew Scriptures and some from the Gospel. Sayings are common in various languages and cultures. Spanish is full of “dichos”.
The Gospel sayings portray a human Jesus deeply immersed in the culture of his time and drawing on the folk wisdom of that culture, but turning it into a demanding challenge.
Two distinct ways of viewing the world emerge. Some people are spiritually blind, produce evil fruit, act hypocritically, lack integrity (hear without acting) and build their lives on shaky foundations.
Others, like their teachers, are self-critical, bear good fruit and act out of the goodness of their hearts.
Psychologists tell us that often those things we most dislike in others tend to be our own less desirable characteristics. We are invited to reflect on how our peculiarities might seem healthy to ourselves, but those of our family, friends and neighbors might bother us and so we would like to change them.
One of my favorite “dichos” from Spanish is: ” CADA PERSONA TIENE SU PROPRIA LOCURA.” To me it means “Each person has their own brand of craziness.”
Jesus advice is for us to look inward before blaming others for problems. We should be more concerned about the goodness of our own hearts than the thorns and brambles around us.
Unless there is someone who can’t speak here, we have all been given the gift of speech. But speech also can be used for good or for bad. We can encourage, thank, inspire, assure, confirm and wordfully grace others. But we can also discourage, darken, accuse, falsify, lie, belittle and dispirit others. Such a powerful gift.
We hopefully are good trees, but we have some bent limbs and we can pray with the loving Unbender Who wishes to bless, encourage and give life through us.
One of the weaknesses of our Catholicism is that we too often separate theory and practice, saying and doing, knowing and being, words and deeds. Our Catholic Church as institution has been more concerned with correct doctrines, opinions, the absence of heresy, truth, faith than with correct deeds, love, charity. We must look at ourselves to see whether this split is in us. Do our words say one thing and our actions another? Jesus did not simply “preach” this primacy of practice; he lived it. The message of Jesus invites us to deep personal introspection today: am I seeking to remove the speck in others eyes, when I still have a plank in my own?
Are my words endorsed by my life, my sayings my acts, my appearance by my truth? Am I authentic? Am I integrated? Do my thoughts, feelings, words and actions all match up? Are there splits that I need to ask Jesus to help me to face during Lent?