8th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

///Luke 6:39-45

///Luke 6:39-45


On Judging Others

Luke 6:39-45

In Brief

  • 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


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Catholic Evangelist Hector Molina

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?


39 Can a blind person… Is. 9:16; 56:10. Mat. 15:14; 23:16–26. Ro. 2:19. 1 Ti. 6:3–5. 2 Ti. 3:13. Will not both fall into a pit?. Je. 6:15; 8:12; 14:15, 16. Mi. 3:6, 7. Zec. 11:15–17. Mat. 23:33.

DR. SCOTT HAHN – Blindness is used in the New Testament as a metaphor for the spiritual darkness of unbelief or lack of spiritual perception (Matt 23:16–19; John 9:41; Rom 2:19; 2 Cor 4:4). Paul was struck blind at his first vision of Christ (Acts 9:8), and later he blinded the magician Elymas, also called BarJesus (Acts 13:11).


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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)


Today’s Blind Guides

SERMON WRITER:  This is an important message in a day when so many self-appointed gurus vie for control of our spiritual affairs, our financial affairs, our medical affairs, our romantic affairs, our family affairs—the list goes on and on. Each guru claims special wisdom, but many are pursuing a hidden agenda—often a selfish agenda. Some are financial or sexual predators. Others are idealistic but poorly informed. Many have made a shambles of their own lives but imagine that they can help others to make a success of theirs. Some are blind, but others see our vulnerabilities—see where they can take advantage. When choosing a guide—particularly a spiritual guide—it pays to be very, very careful.


Divisions Between Clergy and Laity

JAIME L. WATERS: In January, new details emerged about Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s knowledge and mishandling of clerical sexual abuse during his tenure as Archbishop of Munich and Freising (1977-1982). The pope emeritus released a statement expressing his sorrow over events that happened under his watch. He expressed a “heartfelt request for forgiveness” without an explicit apology for his missteps and lapses, speaking only in general terms when precision was needed.

Unfortunately, the church’s responses, mistakes and mishandlings of clerical sexual abuse have caused many within and outside of the church to proclaim as Jesus says in the Gospel, “You hypocrite!” These recurring setbacks exacerbate divisions between the clergy and the laity, especially when some leaders in the church are frequently outspoken on issues related to sex and sexuality. As with all people and institutions, honest self-evaluation and self-critique are necessary to try to correct the wrongs and rebuild damaged relationships… A very simple and direct “I’m sorry” is one of many things missing from the pope emeritus’s statement asking for forgiveness.

Holding One Another Accountable

FR. GEORGE SMIGA: The image of Jesus is very useful for us today in our Church. Our bishops are charged to be leaders for us in faith and morals. But our bishops are blind. They have not proven adequate in dealing with sexual predators in the clergy and among their own ranks. They did not see, and perhaps cannot see, without asking for assistance from those whom they are leading. It is only when bishops and laity together hold one another accountable that we, as a Church, can move forward and leave the scourge of sexual abuse behind us.


Racism, Commercialism, Individualism

FR. GEORGE SMIGA: As we try to lead one another, we are often blind to the social structures of sin that characterize our culture. It is only when we recognize our blindness to the structural sins of racism, commercialism, individualism that we can avoid being harmed by them.

Racism is an example. White Americans could be inclined to say, “How can there be racism? There is no longer slavery in our country.” Even though this is literally true, the attitudes that have been generated by slavery—prejudice, judgment, inferiority—continue to influence all of us.

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Teacher and Disciple (v. 40)

No disciple superior to the teacher; Every disciple like his teacher


40 No disciple is superior; Mat. 10:24, 25. Jno. 13:16; 15:20. but when fully trained… Mat. 23:15.


Student/Disciple Resources

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.


“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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Aren’t we suppose to follow what the  Word of God says? Isn’t that the way  God speaks to us? The Church’s word and its teachings has errors…

FR. BRIAN CARPENTERI think you are placing a wedge where there is no divide. i.e. the Church teachings on matters of faith and morals are part of the way in which God is speaking to us. My point in the video is to remind people of that, as many people think of the Church teachings not as God’s teachings, but as human teachings. If they are the latter, then their authority rests on the argument, but if the are God’s teachings, then they are to followed b/c they are truth and goodness (by definition).

Also, please note that NOT everything said by a Church official is an official Church teaching. By analogy, not every word spoken by government officials accurately describe the laws and policies of a nation. Re: papal infallibility – which does not cover every statement made by the pope, but only statements that are made when he intends to teach with his full authority, on a matter of faith an morals to the whole Church. And while his teachings is infallible, his implementation of it is not.

The full authority of the Church (i.e. her teachings/Doctrine/Dogma) are infallible. But her members (every person from Pope on down) are fallible and sinful human beings. Thus, while a teaching may be true (e.g. all people have dignity being made in God’s image) people fail in implementing these teachings (think, slavery, sex-abuse scandal, racism, poverty). St. Paul even called out St. Peter for some of his actions regarding gentiles and Jews. (cf. Father Brian’s response in the comment section).

History tells us this is far from true as the Church has made many mistakes in the past ( Pope John Paul apologized for some of them) and continues to make mistakes. The Church was established by Christ to carry out His message of love to the world, not to become his clone and claim perfection.

FR. BRIAN CARPENTERThe Church, while composed of humans who do make mistakes, still remains the body of Christ, with Jesus Christ Himself as the head. You cannot separate Christ from the Church. Jesus identifies the Church as Himself. For example, when Jesus confronts Saul, he asks, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4), yet Saul was persecuting the Church, not Jesus. Similarly, in Matthews Gospel He says things such as, “whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40).

Without a Church there is no way to look to God – we either look to ourselves (which many people do mistaking their own feelings and ideas for those of God – in which case they simply deify themselves), or we create false gods. Some people contend that we should can know God only through Scripture – but then again you need a Church with authority to define what does and does not constitute Sacred Scripture (i.e. to decide what books should be in the Bible, and which ones should not, or how to interpret certain passages in the bible. (cf. Father Brian’s response in the comment section).

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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


41 notice the splinter. Mat. 7:3–5. Ro. 2:1, 21–24. not perceive the wooden beam 2 Sa. 12:5–7; 20:9, 10, 20, 21. 1 Ki. 2:32. 1 Ch. 21:6. Ps. 36:2. Je. 17:9. Eze. 18:28. Jno. 8:7, 40–44. Ja. 1:24.


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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.


The analogy is suggestive of a carpenter’s workshop, with which Jesus would have been familiar.

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.



Need for Credibility

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY:  Jesus teaches that in fighting sin, we must begin with fighting the failures in ourselves. When we recognize and condemn in someone else what is a sin in our lives without confessing and repenting our transgressions, then our sins will doubly count against us at the accounting of our lives before God at Divine Judgment. We will also have no credibility if we try to help someone else whose life is torn apart by sin if our lives are just as tainted.


Airline Safety Instructions

CCEC: Morality requires we help each other with our failings. It is immoral to see a brother or sister in sin and not help (Gal 6:1-2). Yet it is hypocritical not to attend to our sins first. We cannot see to help others until we have helped ourselves.

If you have ever taken a flight on an airplane, you have heard an illustration of this point. Before takeoff, the attendant reviews the safety instructions, including instructions for putting on oxygen masks in case of an emergency. The attendant tells the passengers they must put on their own mask before helping those around them. So it is with our sin and the sins of others.

Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary: © Copyright 2014 by Thabiti Anyabwile, B&H Publishing Group

Looking for Lightning Rods

RAY C. STEDMAN – All of us know someone whom we consider a little bit lower on the ethical scale than we are, and what a comfort they are to our hearts! Every time our conscience gives us a little stab, we immediately remember these people, and we take courage, and feel a lot better. If we analyze our thoughts, we find that we secretly feel God has no right to bother us while these people are around. Let him concentrate on them! They are the ones who need it!…We all want a lightning rod that will divert the stroke of divine wrath from us, and channel it off to someone we consider a little more worthy of it. (The Secrets of Men)



SR. MARY M. MCGLONE: People who have admitted their own sinfulness and have grasped the saving hand that helped them move forward are the ones who can help another — they know what it feels like to have a blinding beam removed from their eye.

In his book about addictions, Breathing Under Water, Richard Rohr speaks of something like this when he says:

“God seems to have hidden holiness and wholeness in a secret place where only the humble will find it.”

This is something that people discover in 12-step groups or from reading the autobiographies of the saints. It seems that the closer people get to God, the humbler they become.

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.


Viewing Our Neighbor in a Favorable Way

Erring on the Side of Caution

2478 To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way: “Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.”  (St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, 22.)

Danger of Hypocrisy (v. 42)

You Hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first… 


42 hypocrite!. ch. 13:15. Mat. 23:13–15. Ac. 8:21; 13:10. remove that splinter  ch. 22:32. Ps. 50:16–21; 51:9–13. Pr. 18:17. Mat. 26:75. Ac. 2:38; 9:9–20. Ro. 2:1, 21, etc. 2 Co. 5:18. 1 Th. 2:10–12. Phile. 10, 11. see clearly Mat. 6:22, 23. 2 Ti. 2:21. 2 Pe. 1:9. Re. 3:17, 18.

HYPOCRISY OF RELIGIOUS LEADERS – The most famous discussion of hypocrisy is Matt. 23. The religious leaders did not practice what they preached (Matt. 23:3). Jesus compared them to dishes that were clean on the outside and dirty on the inside and to whitewashed tombs (Matt. 23:25–28).

Warren McWilliams, “Hypocrisy,” ed. Chad Brand et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 799.


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.


Changing the Way We View Others

JUD WILHITE – C.S. Lewis notes that there is someone I love, even though I don’t approve of what he does. There is someone I accept, though some of his thoughts and actions revolt me. There is someone I forgive, though he hurts the people I love the most. That person is me. There are plenty of things I do that I don’t like, but if I can love myself without approving of all I do, I can also love others without approving of all they do. As that truth has been absorbed into my life it has changed the way I view others.

I can love the high rollers and hell raisers that populate Vegas. i can love the gamblers, rebels, strippers, students, and soccer moms no matter what they are currently caught up in. It is not my job to change them or judge them. That’s God’s job. It is my job to love them and point them to the love of Jesus. He is the one who brings change. And it is a process that takes time. When people perceive they are accepted for who they are, irrespective of what they have done or will do, then they are open to friendship and influence.

SOURCE: Quoted in Unchristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity…And Why It Matters by David Kinnaman, Gabe Lyons (Baker Books, 2007), p. 198.

FR. EUGENE LOBO, SJ –  Fr Tony de Mello used to say, “When I change, my whole world changes”. And, not only that, when I change, other people are likely to change but, even if they do not, my attitude towards them will not be the same.  Here we can take off my actor’s mask and be fully ourselves. In the process, we can let other people to be themselves. Then we are no longer worried about planks in our own eyes or in others’. What we see is what there is.


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


45 A good person. Ps. 37:30, 31; 40:8–10; 71:15–18. Pr. 10:20, 21; 12:18; 15:23; 22:17, 18. Mat. 12:35. Jno. 7:38. Ep. 4:29; 5:3, 4, 19. Col. 4:6. the store of goodness in his heart . 2 Co. 4:6, 7. Ep. 3:8. Col. 3:16. He. 8:10. but an evil person Ps. 12:2–4; 41:6, 7; 52:2–4; 59:7, 12; 64:3–8; 140:5. Je. 9:2–5. Ac. 5:3; 8:19–23. Ro. 3:13, 14. Ja. 3:5–8. Jude 15. for. Mat. 12:34–37.

DR. SCOTT HAHN – The condition of the “heart” describes the state of mind or moral condition of the person (Ps 24:4, 73:1; Mark 7:21; 2 Cor 5:12). The heart displays happiness and joy (Prov 15:13; John 16:22; Acts 2:26), sadness and grief (Ps 13:3; Prov 14:10, 13; 15:13; John 14:1; Acts 2:37), and fear (Ps 27:3).


Word Study

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 STUMPWhat 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.


Love As Motivation Behind What We Do

DR. KIERAN O’MAHONY: “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit.” This parable invites us to examine the motivation behind what we do. If our basic motivation is love, then our lives will bear good fruit. If love is absent from our lives then the fruits will be conflict, disharmony and abuse of people for our own selfish ends.

Reflection of Our Inner Character

IVP COMMENTARY:  To judge a tree’s fruit, we don’t look at one particular moment but at a period of production. The product of the life reflects the heart. The product of our discipleship reflects our inner character, what Jesus calls the treasure of the heart. The value of our speech and actions is determined by the quality of the soul that produces them. In other words, works are a snapshot of the heart.

Darrell L. Bock, Luke, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994), Lk 6:37–49.

Words and Works (v. 45)

From the heart, the mouth speaks


Our Covenant Relationship with God


AGAPE BIBLE STUDY:  In the “tree known by its fruit” parable, Jesus uses one of the covenant images of the Old Testament prophets. There are four reoccurring symbolic images of the prophets that represent a covenant relationship or lack of a covenant relationship with God: (1) marriage, (2) the fruitful vine and tree, (3) domesticated animals, and (4) drinking wine

Image Groups
Part I
Covenant Relationship
Part II
Part III
Redemptive Judgment
Part IV
or Fig tree
[examples in Scripture]
Well-tended vineyard/fruitful fig tree

Isaiah 5:1-4;
Ezekiel 19:10-11;
Jeremiah  24:4-7

Vines grow wild/failure to produce fruit

Jeremiah 2:21;
Hosea 2:14;
Micah 7:1-4;
Joel 1:7;

Weeds overgrow vineyard/ ruin and destruction

Isaiah 5:3-6;
Ezekiel 19:12-14;
Jeremiah  8:13;
Nahum 3:12-15

Vines are replanted/ fruitfulness restored

John 15:1-2, 4-6

(See entire chart “The Symbolic Images of the Prophets“).

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY:  In this series of teachings, Jesus was calling His disciples in every generation to be guided by a spiritual discernment that is the evidence of the Holy Spirit working in their lives. They must be honest in confessing and repenting their transgressions before calling other sinners to repentance. They must bear the “good fruit” of righteous deeds as evidence of one who bears the image of the resurrected Jesus Christ.

The philosopher Goethe repeated the point of Jesus’ teaching when he wrote: “Behavior is the mirror of one’s true image.”  Does your behavior mirror the image of the righteous Resurrected Jesus Christ?

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Social Media

DR. BRANT PITRE:  Just think about contemporary applications of this in light of our context today where we have social media… people say things they shouldn’t say. They say things rashly. They make judgments rashly… And it’s disturbing because if Jesus is right… if Christians are tearing one another to pieces verbally, then where are our hearts? Have we really been formed by Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain? Are we imitating the master here as he teaches the disciples to grow in self-knowledge of our sinfulness? Not to run around, taking specks out of everyone else’s eyes, when we still have our own logs to deal with? It’s very easy to hate other people’s sin with passion. It’s much more difficult to learn to hate your own sin far more than you hate anyone else’s.

MRI / Heart Problem

SERMON WRITER:  The principle is that our words and works reflect accurately the condition of our spiritual heart in the same way that an X-ray or an MRI reflects the condition of our physical heart. Our words and works make it clear what is in our hearts (Bock, 129). The person who fails to tell the truth or who uses vulgar language or words that wound doesn’t have a communication problem. He/she has a heart problem.


The Heart is Our Hidden Center

2563 The heart is the dwelling-place where I am, where I live; according to the Semitic or Biblical expression, the heart is the place “to which I withdraw.” The heart is our hidden center, beyond the grasp of our reason and of others; only the Spirit of God can fathom the human heart and know it fully. The heart is the place of decision, deeper than our psychic drives. It is the place of truth, where we choose life or death. It is the place of encounter, because as image of God we live in relation: it is the place of covenant.

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.).

Hypocrites Do Not See the Mote in Their Own Eyes

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA: He had previously shown us that judging others is utterly wicked and dangerous. It causes final condemnation. “Do not judge,” he said, “and you shall not be judged.” Do not condemn, and you shall not be condemned. By conclusive arguments, he persuades us to avoid the very wish of judging others. Deliver yourself first from your great crimes and your rebellious passions, and then you may set him right who is guilty of only minor offenses COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 33.

SOURCE: Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Edited by Aruthur A. Just, Jr. and Thomas C. Oden, InterVarsity Press ©2003, Used with permission.

LUKE 6:39-42

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.

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?

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.

The Good and Bad Trees

ORIGEN: “The good tree” is the Holy Spirit. The “bad tree” is the devil and his underlings. The person who has the Holy Spirit manifests the fruits of the Spirit, which the apostle describes when he says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control.” The one who has the opposing power brings forth briars and thistles, the passions of dishonor. FRAGMENTS ON LUKE 112.

BEDE: “Every tree which does not bear fruit will be cut down and cast into the fire.” Mt 3:10. He is referring to human beings as trees and to their works as the fruit. Do you want to know which are the bad trees and what are the bad fruits? The apostle teaches us this. He says, “The works of the flesh are manifest: they are fornication, impurity, self-indulgence, idolatry, sorcery, malice, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, conflict, factions, envy, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and things of this sort.” Gal 5:19–21. Do you want to hear whether trees which bring forth fruits such as these belong in the heavenly temple of the eternal King? The apostle continues: “I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not attain the kingdom of God.” Gal 5:19. He subsequently lists the fruits of a good tree. He says, “The fruit, however, of the Spirit is charity, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faith, gentleness, self-control.” Gal 5:22–23. HOMILIES ON THE GOSPELS 2.25.

SOURCE: Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Edited by Aruthur A. Just, Jr. and Thomas C. Oden, InterVarsity Press ©2003, Used with permission.

LUKE 6:43-45

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.

For not by extrinsic ornaments and pretended humility is the beauty of true happiness discovered, but by those things which a man does

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.

The treasure of the heart is the same as the root of the tree.

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)


  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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”?
  4. 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?
  5. 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

Junior High Scripture Discussion Starters

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  1. What does one’s speech tell about the character of the person?
  2. How does the reading explain the way one’s faults appear?
  3. What does the fruit of the tree show?

Questions for Deeper Reflection

  1. How can every disciple be like the teacher?
  2. How do you know that a tree is good?
  3. How can one “see clearly?”
SOURCE: Lectionary Resources by RCL BENZINGER

Our Sunday Readings

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SOURCE: Our Sunday Readings by Edrianne Ezell, Used with Permission


Sharing God’s Word

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  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. Most, if not all of us are blind to our own faults. What can help us to prevent this from happening?
  4. 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?
  5. 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?
  6. 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


Echoing God’s Word

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No reflection available for the 7th and 8th Sundays in Ordinary Time (Year C)

SOURCE: Echoing God’s Word by Clement D. Thibodeau (1932-2017), Used with Permission

Reflection by Bishop Jim Golka