1st Reading: 1 Timothy 1:1-2, 12-14
Paul is grateful for the pardon and grace granted to him
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Saviour and of Christ Jesus our hope, To Timothy, my loyal child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Gospel: Gospel: Luke 6:39-42
Can the blind lead the blind? Not being pernickety
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 neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbour, ‘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 neighbour’s eye.
Respecting others’ gifts
The readings are about leadership but they can apply to all human relationships. By implication, we are asked to interact with one another, not as superior to inferior but as equals, recognizing the unique gift of each person. It is because of diversity of strength and grace that problems arise and helpful direction is necessary. What Paul says of himself in First Timothy can apply to each of us. At times we can act out of ignorance and misguided zeal and so appear arrogant to others. We too have received the grace of our Lord, in overflowing measure. The power of grace could convert a persecutor like Saul of Tarsus into the missionary Paul who set off on a world mission.
The Scriptures ask us to respect, admire and learn from the gifts of one another. One can become arrogant and too sure that one’s views are the only valid ones — like those autocratic people who once defended their repressive attitudes towards heresy on the grounds that error has no rights! They need to consider whether they are not like a blind man trying to guide another blind person. Both will fall into the pit, both teacher and student. Each of us needs the wisdom of others to balance our own special insights and strengths. We need the wisdom of othes to keep us united, at the service of all, in the spirit so well evoked in the recent words and gestures of pope Francis, as he calls for renewed fraternity and inclusiveness in our church.
What we don’t see
Jesus suggests that our limited insight into each other makes it very difficult for us to many judgements about others. It can be very tempting to think that we see clearly whereas others are blind. Jesus seems to indicate that we are all blind to some degree and that it is a very often a case of the blind leading the blind rather than the enlightened leading the blind. Changing the metaphor somewhat, Jesus gives us the comic image of someone trying to take a splinter out of someone else’s eye while being oblivious to the plank in his or her own eye. In calling on us to take the plank out of our own eye first Jesus is indicating that we need to be more attentive to ourselves than we are to others. Because of our own faults and failings we do not see clearly enough to understand what is really going on in another person, and, therefore, we need to be very slow to judge and to condemn. Jesus had earlier stated that God, who does see clearly into every heart, is compassionate and merciful to all, even the ungrateful and the wicked. Jesus seems to be calling on us who do not see clearly to take our lead from God who does see clearly, to be as merciful and compassionate as God is.