Monday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
We have a memorable passage from Matthew’s gospel today. It’s true that sometimes we become obsessed with the splinter in our brother’s eye, and neglect to notice the wooden beam in our own eye. We would all be helped by cultivating a regular practice of examination of conscience and confession, so as to take seriously the task of removing the wooden beam from our own eye. Does that mean that we should simply ignore the splinter in our brother’s eye? Not at all. Jesus said “remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.” He did not say: let your brother figure it out for himself. We are meant to help our brother, but we must try to help ourselves first, otherwise Jesus would be right to call us hypocrites.
Imagine you are trying to help your brother to remove the splinter from his eye, and he pushes you away, saying “don’t judge me!” You may think back to those words of Jesus in today’s gospel: “Stop judging, that you may not be judged,” and you may feel guilty, but don’t! Yes, you did have to make a judgment in order to conclude: “there is a splinter in my brother’s eye, and it must be removed.” But, as a matter of fact, you must make judgments every day. For example, someone might judge that caring for a sick relative was worth staying home from work. Is Jesus prohibiting every kind of judgment? No, because, if he did, he would deny a normal, natural, and healthy process of the human mind. It is right for us to help our brother to remove the splinter from his eye, even if he hurls the retort at us: “don’t judge me.” The prohibition Jesus makes on judgment must refer to a specific type of judgment. Which type? That’s a topic for another reflection. Here let it suffice to say, and to pray, that God’s grace will help us all to remove the beams from our own eyes, and, with charity, to help our brother with his splinter, too.