He also told them a parable: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approv
Examining Our Own Hearts
“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.”
Long before psychobabble about defense mechanisms, projection, or shadows, Jesus tells us in simple terms that our own faults cloud us from accurately seeing others, often in ways which make us uncharitably judgmental. To better help others, we must first examine ourselves and know ourselves in honesty and humility.
Jesus also tells us this with some humor. For a person with a whole log in their eye to care to remove a speck from another person’s eye is comically ridiculous. Take it as an invitation to not take ourselves so seriously, but to admit our shortcomings and moments of self-righteousness with some levity and humor.
Today’s prayer is an examen.
In a few moments of prayer with God, recall one or two people you find yourself uncharitably judging. With God examine the ways you have judged them.
Now ask God for insight and help. Ask yourself in what ways, if any, you have shown the faults you find in this other person. Consider what it is about yourself which prevents you from meeting this person or persons with more patience, compassion, or good will. Name the graces and virtues you would need to better love this person.
Ask God for these graces. Thank God for the moment of prayer. Thank God we are all made to grow.
—David J. Herr, SJ