If we are honest enough, it would not take us much effort to discover that there is a bit of this kind of hypocrite in each and every one of us. “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?” I hear Jesus telling me. And, as if this were not enough, he continues: “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?”
Listening to these words immediately made me think how often do I criticize and judge others. Yes, Jesus is right. It’s so easy to see the defect in someone else. Not only that. How often have I used the pretext of helping someone, “Brother, let me help you ….” to give the impression that I am better than he?
Jesus’ word is always challenging. It makes me think. It helps me understand. It makes me realize stuff that is in me which I might find uncomfortable to accept, and which otherwise I would probably have never admitted. And yet, this is the truth. We are all in the same boat. Each one of us has our own weaknesses, together with our own giftedness, I might add. Where we differ is the kind of weakness we have. But, in different ways, we are all like that blind man who cannot pretend to be able to lead his blind brother. Both lack something. One of them leading the other is a recipe for disaster!
In today’s gospel I find an invitation for humility. It is an invitation to have a good look at myself, without falling into the temptation of comparing myself with others. It’s between me and God. Yes, it is true, others around me do have their own defects, weaknesses, and problems – what Jesus calls “splinters” in one’s eye. But I have to look at my own. And, when I do that, I might be shocked to find that my splinter is, actually, as big as a beam!
Doing this is never meant to discourage me. On the contrary, acknowledging the truth about something is often the first necessary step for improvement. Having discovered, and accepted, the beam in my eye, I can, then, do something about it. Perhaps sometimes, I might think that is too big! That might be a reason why I had chosen to try not to see it in the first place. Trying to remove it is hard work. But, with Jesus, nothing is impossible. This is one of the reasons why St Paul insists so much on the resurrection of Jesus in his letters. “Where, O death, is your victory?” Paul cries out in today’s second reading. He does not deny the reality of death. But, with the Rising of Jesus, death has been defeated.
With death, we can include our weaknesses, our sinfulness, whatever it is that, like a beam in our eye, hinders us from seeing everything clearly, through the eyes of God. Like death, these do exist. But, not unlike death, through Jesus’ resurrection they are defeated.