Chapter Talk – Eighth Sunday of the Year – cycle-C – March 3, 2019
Next Sunday is Lent. This Sunday’s gospel could well be a good teaching to usher us into Lent. It reveals Jesus’ remarkable understanding of the human heart and soul. The gospel contains three pericopes and opens with: ‘Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit’ (Lk 6:39). We may ponder Jesus’ question with: Who, then, is one who sees? More specifically, who is one who truly sees his or her neighbor? And Jesus gives us this reply using a metaphor: ‘Why do you notice the splinter in your brother or sister’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?’ (Lk 6:41). How do we come to truly see another person? The key in the parable says that we must first look inwardly at our own heart, at all those quick partial judgments that so quickly rule how we see and how we engage another person.
What is asked of each of us is no easy road. As the third pericope indicates there is a correspondence between our words and heart: ‘For a person’s words flow out of what fills her heart’ (Lk 6:45). In the proclamation at Morning Prayer we heard from Isaac the Syrian that ‘ to see one’s self is superior to the one who sees angels’. To see one’s self denotes some level of self-knowledge; to truly see one’s self is to see with compassion, suspending internal criticism. When we notice we are engaged in seeing the ‘splinter’ in my sister’s eye, can we remember to step back into our selves and implore God for a change of heart, holding close our ‘beams’ and tendency to do or act similarly to what I see in my sister. We will never see as Christ sees if we do not first cleanse our inner eye or be aware of the realities within our selves that cloud how we see another.
Fr. Simeon (Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis) in his commentary on this pericope: ‘you look at the splinter…but ignore the beam’ writes: “The darkness of compulsive judgmentalism distorts all my perceptions and poisons my heart like a noxious gas” (Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word, p.291). Strong words but words that are so true in terms of what happens when we get caught in this internal dynamic of our picky judgmental perceptions, where we point out the ‘splinter’ in my sister and ignore the internal ‘beam’. “Can there be a greater bliss on earth than to go about habitually with forgiveness in our heart and mouth” (p.291) writes Merikakis…This forgiving attitude, which flows out of love, is the antidote to break up the splinter and beam dynamic. Let us, then, daily prepare our hearts, conscious of the ‘splinter / beam dynamic’, so that as we go forward to meet our brother and sister we will be rooted in the forgiving love of our God.
Sr. Kathy DeVico, Abbess