Pastor Column: Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, March 3, 2019
Msgr. Joseph Tracy, St. Stanislaus Parish
This weekend’s Gospel concludes the teaching of Jesus on how God looks upon our actions and attitudes toward others. After contrasting blessing with woe a few weeks ago, then instructing the disciples on how to implement the blessings into their lives, today we move to some practical wisdom for life. Three short parables comprise the heart of the Gospel this Sunday.
The first of these parables stresses the need for the disciples to examine themselves first, before making any comments about anyone else. He or she must acknowledge the “plank” in their own eye before ever pointing out the “speck” in one’s neighbor’s eye. Jesus encourages an honest look at self before commenting on someone else’s lesser fault or quirk. Sometimes we can be reluctant to look at what we know are our own shortcomings. Nobody is perfect! The whole notion of perfection is a problem for our contemporary society. When we think “perfection” we tend to refer to the kind that is often perpetuated by a social-media-laden world that is not perfect at all. Perfectly presented families on Facebook, meals, vacations and events, unbalanced by the imperfections of daily life (like runny noses while recovering from a temper tantrum, overcooked meals, or a sunken eyed mom overcome by lack of sleep) never seem to grace the internet. In short, the world is not perfect and neither are we. Jesus invites us to see ourselves more clearly. Perhaps we can try being more faithful and attentive in prayer, listening to how God’s Word speaks to us when reading scripture, or attending a daily Mass or two when able. Coming to see is a process, not a moment.
The second parable describes how good fruit comes from a good tree. The application to life is pretty simple: a good person will bear good fruit by his/her nature. Is that happening in our lives? If not, what needs to change? It is possible for ordinary people to practice their Christian faith and put it into action for good.
Finally, in the last parable to end the Sermon on the Plain, Luke presents the message that true character is revealed in our words and actions. “From the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks” says the psalmist. Be a person of good heart doing good things! Our good deeds – even if done privately – are effective ways of spreading faith to others. We cannot teach the faith if we are not witnesses to what we teach. In this Sermon on the Plain, Jesus forms us as disciples who are to guide and teach others. May God give parents, grandparents, educators – and all who teach – hearts and ears to listen!