Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle C
1st Reading - Sirach 27: 4-7
Responsorial Psalm – 92: 3-3, 13-14, 15-16
2nd Reading – 1 Corinthians 15: 54-58
Gospel – Luke 6: 39-45
The readings for this week teach us two separate things; How we should interact with others and how we should interact with ourselves. This is the final part of the Sermon on the Plain and Luke is continuing his theme of behavior. All three readings connect speech with character.
We are all guilty of judging a book by its cover. (Never trust a skinny chef.) We have all found fault in others while not admitting the same weakness in ourselves. This is called projection. We only recognize what we know. The next time you realize that you are really disliking someone, ask yourself what it is in that person that irritates you so much, and I bet you’ll find you dislike the same quality in yourself. The same goes for the opposite. If you see yourself really enjoying the company of someone, stop and think about the character traits you admire in that person and consider the fact that you probably appreciate the same thing about yourself.
In a world full of advice seekers and advice givers, it’s difficult to know whom to trust. This was true for the disciples (to whom Jesus is addressing this parable) but also to us today. Deception has become easier and more profound (consider social media) in our time, and yet it is more important than ever to decipher the truth from the lies. For the Jews hearing this message, thoughts originated in the heart. What we store in our hearts matters; it bears fruit. An excellent way to tell if someone is trustworthy is to look for consistency in behavior. When the heart, words, and actions are in sync, the person is authentic and full of integrity. When the heart, words, and actions are not in sync, there is hypocrisy.
Correcting behavior in ourselves is a challenge. As if it wasn’t hard enough, being watched (constantly) by those around us makes it even more difficult. If you’ve ever been on a diet (or known someone who is dieting), you’ll appreciate the wisdom in this gospel. Remember back on a time (and I’m confident it has happened to all of us) when each and every bite of food was scrutinized before it was consumed. The thoughts go something like this:
“Didn’t she say she was on a diet? That chocolate lava cake is not sugar or fat-free and has a zillion calories.”
“Didn’t he say he wasn’t drinking alcohol anymore? That looks like a vodka-tonic in his hand.”
“Didn’t she say that she was going to yoga class? What is she doing at the bakery?”
No one likes a hypocrite.
I love the warning from the first reading: “Praise no one before he speaks for it is then that people are tested.” That’s excellent advice. I don’t want anyone judging me before I’ve had a chance to explain myself. The trouble is stopping the judgment the other way around. When we give criticism, we receive criticism. When we offer compassion, we receive compassion. We cannot rationalize sin by pointing it out in others. The Church is rehab for sinners, not just a resort for saints.
The gospel doesn’t say to ignore the beam in your brother’s eye or even to leave it alone. It says that you need to do the work on yourself before you can help him. And help him you must. So, get busy.
1. What is taking up space in your heart today?
2. What does your speech reveal about you? Do you frequently judge others?
3. What specific words from Jesus’ sermon are essential in your life today?
4. Are your thoughts, words, and actions in sync?
There is no handout available for this week.