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The Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

March 2, 2019

Alleluia, Alleluia.

Shine like lights in the world
  as you hold on to the word of life.

Alleluia, Alleluia.

.

A reading from the holy Gospel according to St. Luke 6: 39-45

Jesus told his disciples a parable, “Can a blind person guide a blind person?  Will not both fall into a pit?  No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained,
every disciple will be like his teacher.  Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’ when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye?  You hypocrite!  Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.


A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit.  For every tree is known by its own fruit.  For people do not pick figs from thorn bushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles.  A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”

THE GOSPEL OF THE LORD

REFLECTION

This is the third Sunday that we have been reflecting on Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain provided by the Gospel according to St. Luke.  The Sermon is the underpinning for a disciple’s way of life.  Luke’s version of the Sermon is distinct for its brevity and its focus on the spirit of the Gospel: loving one’s enemies and not judging others.  This Wednesday begins the sacred Season of Lent.  And so, these three weeks have played a significant role in preparing us to be better disciples who repent, and (more deeply) believe in the Gospel (words used when receiving the ashes).

These teachings are not only the basis of a disciple’s life — For every tree is known by its own fruit, but are the virtues by which a disciple contributes to the establishment of the Kingdom of Godfor a good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good.  It is in the fruit, the deeds of one’s life that demonstrates true discipleship, and are the building blocks of God’s kingdom on earth.

The Liturgy of the Word begins with four short verses attributed to the author, Ben Sirach the Wise.  The verses center on human speech which can reveal the best or worse of a person.  Because we are created in the image of God, we too have the power of speech.  God created in and through His Word, His divine Son.  In our turn, we have the power by our words to create goodness and build up God’s Kingdom, or we can misuse our power and judge and pull down our neighbor.

This wisdom from the Book of Sirach provides appropriate introduction for Jesus’ teaching on the role of a disciple to properly lead others in the way of Gospel living, and to be seriously cautious in judging another.  True Christian leadership requires a disciple to use words the way God speaks, not by judging another but by encouraging and guiding others so that they can produce good fruit.. 

Jesus’ question continues to this day to be a haunting challenge: Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?  A disciple is not to act as one who is blind to his/her own faults, but to be clear-sighted and be attentive to the beam in one’s own eye before offering to remove a mere splinter in a neighbor’s eye!   To focus on the splinter in the eye of one’s neighbor and to belligerently refuse to remove one’s own beam-sized faults is to reject the Gospel mandate of last Sunday: Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Stop judging and you will not be judged.  Stop condemning and you will not be condemnedForgive and you will be forgiven (Luke 6: 36-37).

Prosit!

Monsignor Joseph Marino

 

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