8th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C) ///Luke 6:39-45 ///Luke 6:39-45
8th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
On Judging Others
Commentary | Talking Points
- Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but not the wooden beam in your own eye?
- A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor a rotten tree bear good fruit.
SOURCE: Our Sunday Visitor
Introduction (v. 39)
Jesus told his disciples a parable
A Series of Aphorisms
MSGR. JOSEPH PELLEGRINO – The readings for today are full of aphorisms. An aphorisms is an adage, or a tersely phrased statement of the truth. Let’s look at three of the aphorisms found in the Gospel of Luke…
Like a Fast Moving Slideshow
SERMON WRITER – This is not so much a parable as a series of images—like a fast moving slide show.
- First we see a snapshot of one blind person trying to guide another blind person (v. 39b).
- Then we see a person who seems not to notice the huge log sticking out of his eye as he probes for the speck in his neighbor’s eye (vv. 41-42).
- Then we see a pair of trees, one good and one bad—and a bramble bush (vv. 43-44).
Teachers As Role Models (v. 39)
Can a blind person guide a blind person?
🎨 ART CONNECTION
The Blind Leading the Blind, Painted by Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1529-1569), is a literal depiction of the parable of the blind. Each figure has a different eye affliction, just like all of us are blind in so many different ways. The men are holding each other for guidance. But, the leader of the group has already fallen into a ditch and, because they are all linked together, he is dragging everyone else down with him.
Gospel Parallel – Matthew
SERMON WRITER: In Matthew’s version of this saying, Jesus is speaking of the Pharisees as blind guides (Matthew 15:12-14), but here the application is more general.
Lukan Theme: Recovery of Sight to the Blind
DR. KIERAN O’MAHONY: TThe imagery resonates with Jesus’ programme of recovery of sight to the blind: Luke 4:18; 7:21–22; 18:35–43; cf. Luke 14:13, 21. Philip, in the story of the Ethiopian eunuch, is the ideal, clearsighted teacher who can help the blind (Acts 8:31).
Jesus Use of a Popular Cultural Saying
AGAPE BIBLE STUDY: Jesus uses what may have been a popular saying to make His point about the importance of correct behavior. A person already immersed in sin cannot lead someone else out of sin and back to the path of righteousness. He is a “blind guide” and a hypocrite because of his sinful condition.
DR. KIERAN O’MAHONY: The image of the blind leading etc. is found in the culture. Cf. Philo of Alexandria’s less pity version:
But if any persons, utterly disregarding the true wealth of nature, pursue instead the riches of vain opinions, relying on those riches which are blind instead of on those which are gifted with acute sight, and taking a guide for their road who is himself crippled, such men must of necessity fall down. (Virt 1:7)
Teacher and Disciple (v. 40)
No disciple superior to the teacher; Every disciple like his teacher
ILLUSTRATED BIBLE BACKGROUNDS: Before the widespread availability of books, a teacher was the only resource for a student or disciple, so his knowledge could go no further than that which he was taught. The kind of forgiveness believers show will be picked up by those who follow them.
The “Fully Qualified”
DR. KIERAN O’MAHONY: For Luke, Jesus is the teacher and cannot be surpassed. Nevertheless, Luke inserts an adjective “fully qualified” (katērtismenos). The emphasis is not so much on matching the teacher’s knowledge bur rather on the formation and development of the disciple’s moral imagination.
Church’s Teaching Authority
MSGR. JOSEPH PELLEGRINO – People cannot teach until they have learned. This is true in every aspect of life, but particularly in the Church. In the Catholic Church we are blessed with a teaching authority. This authority is often given the Latin word for teacher and called the Magisterium. The magisterium consists in the Pope, the Bishops, theologians and consultants. The duty of the magisterium is to set the course for us to relate our faith and morals to the evolving times… [They] evolved over many centuries as the Church continues to grow in its understanding of itself.
🔴 CATHOLIC PRAXIS
“WWJD?” is Not A Catholic Question
FR. BRIAN CARPENTER: “What would Jesus do?” is not a Catholic question? Now, when I say this I do not mean to suggest that we should not try and imitate Christ. Often times we give kids the little bracelets that say WWJD as a way of helping to remind them that they are to imitate Christ when they are out on the playground or in their daily lives… But it is not the proper question in how we philosophically approach our morals…
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Carpenter Workshop Analogy (v. 41)
You notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own
🎨 ART CONNECTION
The Parable of the Mote and the Beam painting is one of thirteen illustrations of Gospel parables painted by Domenico Fetti in 1619. It illustrates the key point of Jesus’ parable that there is nothing worse than hypocrisy.
NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER – What first grabs the viewers’ attention is a massive beam that juts out of the wall on the right, stretches three-fourths of the way across the center of the painting and almost touches the left eye of the older man. In contrast, a splinter from that beam juts out in almost the opposite direction, coming very close to the younger man’s eye… Tellingly, the older man is almost completely in shadows, with only his right hand, upper arm and part of his right knee in the light. The older man is in both physical and metaphorical darkness, and the weakness of his argument — whatever it is — is reinforced by the fact that his left hand uses the back wall as a support.
Differences Among Translations
WIKIPEDIA: The original Greek word translated as “mote” (κάρφος karphos) meant “any small dry body”. The terms splinter and wooden beam in today’s lectionary are from the New American Bible. Other translations use different words.
- Splinter and log – Jerusalem Bible (JB)
- Mote and beam – Douay-Rheims (D-R); King James (KJV);
- Speck (of sawdust) and plank – New International Version (NIV)
Clipart by Fr. Richard Lonsdale © 2000. Click image to view more clipart for this Sunday.
Relationship Between “Splinter” & “Beam”
CHRISTIANITY.COM – An interesting twist on this statement is that speck and plank are from the same original word, meaning they are of the same substance. In other words, Jesus was saying the reason some people are so adept at finding fault in the lives of others is because they are so familiar with it themselves. They can spot certain things in another person’s life because they are guilty of the same sin—in probably a greater capacity.
Sin of Pride
CATHOLIC READINGS.ORG – The lesson we learn today is about the sin of pride. Pride makes us see the minor faults in others instead of seeing the serious faults that we obviously have. Pride blinds us completely and prevents us from having an honest self-reflection and an examination of our conscience. Pride hides the truth from us. It covers us with a false mask such that we are unable to see ourselves in the light of truth, therefore, preventing us from seeing the log in our own eye. This ugly sin of pride makes us focus on the tiny and insignificant faults of our neighbours and friends. These tiny faults are the splinters in our brothers’ eyes.
Danger of Hypocrisy (v. 42)
You Hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first…
AGAPE BIBLE STUDY: We are hypocrites if we quickly judge a fault in someone else when we are guilty of the same sin in our life. …There is no Hebrew or Aramaic equivalent. It is a Greek word that refers to the Greek theater and means “playing a role or part.” Jesus’s point is that someone guilty of unconfessed sins for which they have not shown repentance is only a hypocrite playing the part of a righteous person when they try to bring to light the sins of another.
Jesus’ command not to judge or condemn does not mean that we never confront sin. Rather, what Jesus condemns is hypocritical judgment.
🔴 CATHOLIC PRAXIS
Are People Who Go to Church Hypocrites?
Some conclude that those who attend church are hypocrites because they talk about loving God and neighbor, but gossip and mistreat each other just like the rest of us. Is that a valid objection?
BRIAN HOLDSWORTH – Imagine if we applied that to [the Gym]. I went to the Gym to get fit, but when I got there I saw a bunch of people were not fit. In fact, some were actually the opposite of fit. So I said, what a bunch of hypocrites and hurried back to a lifestyle of idleness…
Mark of A Good Person (v. 43-44)
Each tree is known by its fruit
DR. KIERAN O’MAHONY: The move from the carpenter’s shop to the farmer’s orchard is facilitated by a play of sounds in Greek:
- speck is karphos in Greek,
- while fruit iskarpos.
…The whole point of the Sermon is to shape the inner person so that s/he may bear good fruit. Unlike the decorations on aChristmas tree, the fruits of the Christian life must grow from within.
Fruits of the Holy Spirit
ELEONORE STUMP: What are the good fruits that you have to bring forth to count as a good tree? They are the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Every person in whom the Holy Spirit dwells has the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Scripture lists nine fruits (see Galatians 5:22-23), but traditionally the Church has listed twelve…
- Five fruits have to do with your relation to the Lord.
- Four fruits have to do with your attitude towards your neighbor.
- Three fruits have to do with your attitudes about yourself.
If you have all these good fruits of the Spirit, it will be easy to recognize you as the good tree that you are!
Results More Important Than Promises
SALFORD DIOCESE – We have many sayings about results being more important than promises, such as “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”. Today’s scripture readings are all about this – the ways in which our words and actions will reveal who we truly are.
There is a wonderful mosaic of poetic wisdom in the readings this Sunday – images and parables and similes that can sit in our heads and hearts, and make us think about the sort of people we are, and the words we use and the fruits we produce by them. And we should pray that we will always produce good, sound fruit, so that we may keep on working at the Lord’s work always, and so share in Christ’s victory over death itself.
Deeds vs. Words
NAVARRE BIBLE: To distinguish the good tree from the bad tree we need to look at the fruit the tree produces (deeds) and not at its foliage (words).
“For there is no lack of people here on earth who, on being approached, turn out to be nothing but large, shiny, glossy leaves. Foliage, just foliage and nothing more. Meanwhile, many souls are looking to us, hoping to satisfy their hunger, which is a hunger for God. We must not forget that we have all the resources we need. We have sufficient doctrine and the grace of God, in spite of our wretchedness” (St Josemaría Escrivá, Friends of God, 51).
Saint Luke’s Gospel, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2005), 81.
AGAPE BIBLE STUDY: In Jesus’s parable, the good fruit (good works) come from good trees (good people), and the rotten fruit (evil works) come from bad trees (people with evil intentions). The malicious accusations of the scribes and Pharisees reveal the malice and evil in their hearts; it is their rotten fruit/deeds that identify them as evil. They are looking for sin in Jesus when there was an abundance of sin evident in their lives.
Outgrowth of Character
SERMON WRITER: A plant’s produce is the natural outgrowth of its character. A good tree bears good fruit, and a bad tree bears either bad fruit or no fruit. A fig tree bears figs, and a thorn bush bears thorns. A grapevine bears grapes, and a bramble bush bears brambles. Jesus states this self-evident principle to illustrate a parallel principle in our spiritual lives. Just as a good tree bears good fruit and a bad tree bears bad fruit, so also a good person produces good and an evil person evil. This is no coincidence. Our actions are an outward expression of our inward being. It is “out of the good treasure of the heart” that the good person produces good and “out of evil treasure of his heart” that the evil person produces evil.
Words and Works (v. 45)
From the heart, the mouth speaks
Our Covenant Relationship with God
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CROSS REFERENCES SOURCE: B. Blayney, Thomas Scott, and R.A. Torrey with John Canne, Browne, The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, vol. 2 (London: Samuel Bagster and Sons, n.d.).
39. And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?
40. The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.
41. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
42. Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. The Lord added to what had gone before a very necessary parable, as it is said, And he spake a parable to them, for His disciples were the future teachers of the world, and it therefore became them to know the way of a virtuous life, having their minds illuminated as it were by a divine brightness, that they should not be blind leaders of the blind. And then he adds, Can the blind lead the blind? But if any should chance to attain unto an equal degree of virtue with their teachers, let them stand in the measure of their teachers, and follow their footsteps. Hence it follows, The disciple is not above his master. Hence also Paul says, Be ye also followers of me, as I am of Christ (1 Cor. 1:11.). Since Christ therefore judged not, why judgest thou? for He came not to judge the world, but to shew mercy.
THEOPHYLACT. Or else, If thou judgest another, and in the very same way sinnest thyself, art not thou like to the blind leading the blind? For how canst thou lead him to good when thou also thyself committest sin? For the disciple is not above his master. If therefore thou sinnest, who thinkest thyself a master and guide, where will he be who is taught and led by thee? For he will be the perfect disciple who is as his master.
BEDE. Or the sense of this sentence depends upon the former, in which we are enjoined to give alms, and forgive injuries. If, says He, anger has blinded thee against the violent, and avarice against the grasping, how canst thou with thy corrupt heart cure his corruption? If even thy Master Christ, who as God might revenge His injuries, chose rather by patience to render His persecutors more merciful, it is surely binding on His disciples, who are but men, to follow the same rule of perfection.
AUGUSTINE. (de Qu. Ev. l. ii. q. 9.) Or, He has added the words, Can the blind, lead the blind, in order that they might not expect to receive from the Levites that measure of which He says, They shall give into thy bosom, because they gave tithes to them. And these He calls blind, because they received not the Gospel, that the people might the rather now begin to hope for that reward through the disciples of the Lord, whom wishing to point out as His imitators, He added, The disciple is not above his master.
THEOPHYLACT. But the Lord introduces another parable taken from the same figure, as follows, But why seest thou the mote (that is, the slight fault) which is in thy brother’s eye, but the beam which is in thine own eye (that is, thy great sin) thou regardest not?
BEDE. Now this has reference to the previous parable, in which He forewarned them that the blind cannot be led by the blind, that is, the sinner corrected by the sinner. Hence it is said, Or, how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother let me cast out the mote that is in thine eye, if thou seest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. As if He said, How can he who is guilty of grievous sins, (which He calls the beam,) condemn him who has sinned only slightly, or even in some cases not at all? For this the mote signifies.
THEOPHYLACT. But these words are applicable to all, and especially to teachers, who while they punish the least sins of those who are put under them, leave their own unpunished. Wherefore the Lord calls them hypocrites, because to this end judge they the sins of others, that they themselves might seem just. Hence it follows, Thou hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine own eye, &c.
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. That is to say, first shew thyself clean from great sins, and then afterwards shalt thou give counsel to thy neighbour, who is guilty only of slight sins.
BASIL. (Hom. 9, in Hexameron.) In truth, self knowledge seems the most important of all. For not only the eye, looking at outward things, fails to exercise its sight upon itself, but our understanding also, though very quick in apprehending the sin of another, is slow to perceive its own defects.
SOURCE: eCatholic 2000 Commentary in public domain.
43. For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
44. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.
45. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
BEDE. Our Lord continues the words which He had begun against the hypocrites, saying, For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; i. e. as if He says, If thou wouldest have a true and unfeigned righteousness, what thou settest forth in words make up also in works, for the hypocrite though he pretends to be good is not good, who doeth evil works; and the innocent though he be blamed, is not therefore evil, who doeth good works.
TITUS BOSTRENSIS. But take not these words to thyself as an encouragement to idleness, for the tree is moved conformably to its nature, but thou hast the exercise of free will; and every barren tree has been ordained for some good, but thou wert created unto the good work of virtue.
ISIDORE OF PELEUSIUM. (lib. iv. ep. 81.) He does not then exclude repentance, but a continuance in evil, which as long as it is evil cannot bring forth good fruit, but being converted to virtue, will yield abundance. But what nature is to the tree, our affections are to us. If then a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit, how shall a corrupt heart?
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 42. in Matt.) But although the fruit is caused by the tree, yet it brings to us the knowledge of the tree, because the distinctive nature of the tree is made evident by the fruit, as it follows, For every tree is known by its fruit.
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. Each man’s life also will be a criterion of his character. For not by extrinsic ornaments and pretended humility is the beauty of true happiness discovered, but by those things which a man does; of which he gives an illustration, adding, For of thorns men do not gather figs.
AMBROSE. On the thorns of this world the fig cannot be found, which as being better in its second fruit, is well fitted to be a similitude of the resurrection. Either because, as you read, The fig trees have put forth their green figs, (Cant. 2:13.) that is, the unripe and worthless fruit came first in the Synagogue. Or because our life is imperfect in the flesh, perfect in the resurrection, and therefore we ought to cast far from us worldly cares, which eat into the mind and scorch up the soul, that by diligent culture we may obtain the perfect fruits. This therefore has reference to the world and the resurrection, the next to the soul and the body, as it follows, Nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. Either because no one living in sin obtains fruit to his soul, which like the grape nearest the ground is rotten, on the higher branches becomes ripe. Or because no one can escape the condemnations of the flesh, but he whom Christ has redeemed, Who as a grape hung on the tree.
BEDE. Or, I think the thorns and bramble are the cares of the world and the prickings of sin, but the figs and the grapes are the sweetness of a new life and the warmth of love, but the fig is not gathered from the thorns nor the grape from the bramble, because the mind still debased by the habits of the old man may pretend to, but cannot bring forth the fruits of the new man. But we must know, that as the fruitful palm tree is inclosed and supported by a hedge, and the thorn bearing fruit not its own, preserves it for the use of man, so the words and acts of the wicked wherein they serve the good are not done by the wicked themselves, but by the wisdom of God working upon them.
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. But having shewn that the good and the bad man may be discerned by their works as a tree by its fruits, he now sets forth the same thing by another figure, saying, A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good, and the evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth that which is evil.
BEDE. The treasure of the heart is the same as the root of the tree. He therefore who has in his heart the treasure of patience and perfect love, brings forth the best fruits, loving his enemy, and doing the other things which have been taught above. But he who keeps a bad treasure in his heart does the contrary to this.
BASIL. The quality of the words shews the heart from which they proceed, plainly manifesting the inclination of our thoughts. Hence it follows, For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 42. in Matt.) For it is a natural consequence when wickedness abounds within, that wicked words are breathed as far as the mouth; and therefore when you hear of a man uttering abominable things, do not suppose that there lies only so much wickedness in him as is expressed in his words, but believe the fountain to be more copious than the stream.
BEDE. By the speaking of the mouth the Lord signifies all things, which by word, or deed, or thought, we bring forth from the heart. For it is the manner of the Scripture to put words for deeds.
SOURCE: eCatholic 2000 Commentary in public domain.
WORD-SUNDAY (3:17) – Larry Broding
Studying God’s Word
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Jesus addresses not false teachers but the disciples; who are blind until they have their eyes opened by Jesus’ teaching. Once they have learned to apply his teaching, they will be able to teach others. • The hyperbolic language used by Jesus comparing the beam in one’s own eye to the splinter in our neighbor’s eye brings home the point that it is foolish to correct the faults of others when we have not overcome our even greater faults. • The heart is the center of the person and the origin of all moral decisions. Whatever is in our hearts will come out in our words and deeds, looks like a tree is known by the fruit it bears (Matthew 7:15-20; 12:33-37; 15:18-20)
- In the first reading, Sirach tells us that what is really inside of a person is evident by what comes out of their mouth. How can we more effectively cultivate inner holiness so that it is reflected in our speech?
- In the second reading, since everyone dies anyway, what difference does dying or not dying in sin make? What is the victory over death that we have in Christ?
- In the Gospel reading, Jesus is obviously not talking about literal blind persons or beams and splinters. What is he alluding to in this parable? In what ways are you spiritually blind? What beam-sized vices have you not removed before reproaching others for relatively smaller “splinters”?
- Why is the comparison between a tree that bears either good or bad fruit an apt image? Are those results that can be can be easily concealed? What does the fruit in your life say about your inner life? How can you go about beginning to improve the fruit of holiness in your life?
- How do you speak when you become irritated or impatient? How do you speak of others (especially family members) who do not behave as you would wish? What do your speech habits say about “the abundance” of your heart?
SOURCE: Sunday Scripture Study by Vince Contreras, Used with Permission
FR. EAMON TOBIN
Sharing God’s Word
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- Turn to the person next to you and share what verse in the Gospel caught your attention. The facilitator can decide which is more helpful: to share the next questions with the whole group, or to share in smaller groups of three or four.
- In the first reading, our speech is the test of our true nature. What steps do you need take to make your speech more kind/more gracious?
- Most, if not all of us are blind to our own faults. What can help us to prevent this from happening?
- Psychologists often say that the attitudes and behaviors we dislike most in others are often present in our own lives, e.g., a very controlling person often criticizes others who are bossy and overbearing. What do you think of this? What are other examples of behaviors that we (or others), may have that we may criticize in others?
- Name one area of your life that you would like to bear more fruit e.g., you may like to be better at sharing your faith with others. What action do you need to take to help you to be more fruit bearing in the area you named?
- What is the one thing Jesus is saying to us in this Sunday’s Gospel about how a disciple should speak or act?
SOURCE: Commentaries on the Lectionary by Fr. Eamon Tobin (1947-2021), Used with Permission
Let us now pause to see how something(s) said in the reading might lead us into shared prayer.
“Dear Lord, we profoundly know that you are the potter and we are the clay, help us to reveal your goodness in all we say and do.” “Please help us to see our own beams and others’ splinters with the compassionate eyes of our hearts.”
SOURCE: Commentaries on the Lectionary by Fr. Eamon Tobin (1947-2021), Used with Permission
FR. CLEMENT D. THIBODEAU
Echoing God’s Word
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No reflection available for the 7th and 8th Sundays in Ordinary Time (Year C)