Homily for the 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Theme: LOG IN YOUR EYE
By: Fr. Gerald Musa
Homily for Sunday February 27 2022
Once upon a time, there was a young artist who was specialized in finding fault with others. He was quick at detecting people’s errors and never hesitated to judge, criticize, condemn and ridicule people for their faults and weaknesses. One night he had a dream and there he saw himself carrying a heavy burden on his back. He struggled with the burden, cried out, and complained, “What is this burden that I must carry and why must I carry it?” He heard a voice responding to him, “The burden you carry is the sum of faults you found in other people. Since you discovered the faults, should they not belong to you now?” (Story attributed to Maurice Maeterlinck, writer, and poet).
We share in the guilt of finding fault in other people while overlooking our greater faults. Jesus asks, “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye?” (Luke 6:42). Remember the story of Prophet Nathan and King David (2 Samuel 12). The wise prophet went to David to confront him about his sin of adultery. When Nathan met the king, he started with a story of a rich man who left his many flocks and herds and took the only lamb of a poor man to entertain a guest. Listening to this story, David furiously said, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity” (2 Samuel 12:5-6). Nathan boldly told David, “You are the man” (2 Samuel 12:7). David then realized his grievous fault of leaving his many wives and taking the only wife of one of his soldiers Uriah. He was quick to see the speck in the eye of the rich man whom Nathan spoke about, but the log in his eye blinded him from seeing himself in the story. The fault we see in our neighbour may be a projection of our own faults. Besides, removing the log from our eyes reminds us of the heartless debtor (unforgiving servant) in the parable of Jesus who, after he was forgiven a big debt, went to threaten, seize by the throat and harass another servant who owed him a little sum of money. He was pardoned for his big log, but he could not pardon his debtor for the speck in his eyes (cf. Matthew 18:21-35).
Does removing the log from our eyes mean that we cannot correct others when they are wrong? Not at all? However, the way and manner in which we speak to people who make mistakes matter a lot. Our manner of correction or criticism can help a person bear more fruits or humiliate and discourage the person at fault. Criticism and correction may go wrong if motivated by the wrong reasons which include shifting blame from ourselves and heaping it on another; criticism may not be taken in good faith if it is destructive, rather than constructive. Removing the log from our eyes means, if we must preach to others, we must first preach to ourselves because we all belong to the fraternity of the fallen.
Two things that will help us discover and identify the logs in our eyes are Self-knowledge and self-examination. When we are deeply connected with God in prayer, he enables us to see ourselves well in the mirror, removes the log from our eyes, and helps us identify even the subtle and hidden faults in our lives. In a meditation, St. Faustina recounted an encounter with Jesus. She recalled, “One day, I had picked the prettiest roses to decorate the room of a certain person. When I was approaching the porch, I saw Jesus standing there. In a kindly way, he asked me, “My daughter, to whom are you taking these flowers? My silence was my reply to the Lord because I recognized immediately that I had a very subtle attachment to this person, which I had not noticed before. Suddenly, Jesus disappeared. At that moment I threw the flowers on the ground and went before the Blessed Sacrament, my heart filled with gratitude for the grace of knowing myself.” In the end, St. Faustina prayed, “O Divine Sun, in your rays the soul sees the tiniest specks of dust which displease you” (Faustina Diary, 36-37). The experience of St. Faustina teaches us how God helps us discover our imperfections.
According to St. Josemaria, “Do not be afraid: the more one advances in the interior life, the more clearly one sees one’s own faults. Grace works in us like a magnifying glass, and even the tiniest speck of dust or an almost invisible grain of sand can appear immensely large, for the soul acquires a divine sensitivity, and even the slightest shadow irritates one’s conscience, which finds delight only in the limpid clarity of God” (Friends of God, 20).
More still, with self-knowledge and self-examination we get to know our faults and we get to discover if we are bearing fruits or not. Both the Old and New Testaments speak eloquently about the importance of bearing good fruit in life. The book of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) says as the fruit shows the nature of a tree, so do words show the nature of a man’s mind. This means speech is the test of the content of the mind of a person. Jesus emphatically says, “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit.” If we must produce good fruit, we should be prudent in finding faults, charitable in criticizing and correcting others, merciful in judging the lost, and learn to speak the truth in love. The words we speak are either producing good fruit, bad fruit, or no fruit.
Our words can encourage, discourage, empower, disempower, strengthen or boost other people’s morale. Scripture vividly says, “From the fruit of his mouth a man is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits” (Proverbs 18:20-21). We must not spend too much time finding the faults of others or displaying our spiritual strength. St. Paul admonishes us: “We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves” (Romans 15:1). A fruitful tree does not spend time finding faults in other trees; the good fruit it bears encourages other trees to do the same. Mother Theresa says, “When you judge people, you will have no time to love them.”
Sirach 27:4-7; 1 Corinthians 15:54-58; Luke 6:39-45; 8th Sunday of the Year C.