VIII Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year C – March 3, 2019
Sir 27.4-7; Ps 92; 1 Cor 15: 45-58; Lk 6,39-45
Sir 18: 11-14; Ps 103; 2Cor 2,5-11; Lk 19.1-10
Last Sunday after the Epiphany – called “of forgiveness”
1) Who is the real blind?
The Gospel of today’s liturgy offers us the final verses of the discourse that Jesus was making in the plain near the Lake of Galilee. In the final part of last Sunday’s the Gospel passage, the Son of God invited to be merciful like the heavenly Father, indicating four ways of being and acting to practice mercy: not to judge, not to condemn, to absolve and to give without measure.
Then as today, Christ invites us to make the Beatitudes direct our lives. In this regard, it should be remembered this fundamental datum of Christian life: moral life is the consequence of an encounter and belonging to God-Love, not a sterile, pharisaic moralism. Jesus asks us to be merciful because the Father is merciful: our action is a consequence of the encounter we had with Jesus, the Redeemer.
In today’s Gospel Christ continues his teaching on mercy with three short parables plus a comparison between disciple and master
The parable of the blind man who leads another blind man, the shorter of the parables, occupies a line: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? “(Lk 6: 39), and seems to be directed to the animators of the community who think that they are the holders of the truth and therefore superior to others and do not practice mercy. This is why they are blind guides because they cannot distinguish between the inspiration of the Spirit and the dark thrust of evil. Those who think that there is a way superior to mercy is a blind man. I believe that in this case, we can interpret “blind” not as a “blind person from the physical point of view”, but as a person who does not know where he comes from and where he is going. He is blind spiritually and knows neither himself nor God nor anyone else because God is mercy.
What happens to those who want to try ways superior to those of God? He falls into the pit of death because there is no life far from God’s mercy. Wanting to lead others may seem like a gesture of love, but when you are blind and you claim to be a guide, it is not true love, it is pure selfishness that leads into the ravine.
In verse 40 of Chapter 6 of Luke’s Gospel, Christ continues his speech by saying: “There is no disciple upon the Master” (Lk 6:40). It is as if he affirmed: If someone thinks he is doing something better than what I did, I who am the Master, he is mistaken because to be a good Christian disciple it is “enough” to be like him: humble operators of mercy. The presumption, among other things, is a sign of stupidity
Then he continues: “ Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own? 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? You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.”( Lk 6, 41,42). In this way, the Redeemer tells us who the bad teachers are: they are those blind to mercy, they are the presumptuous ones who are ruthless judges with the others, kind to themselves, look at all the straws in the eyes of others and do not realize they have a beam in the eye. Try to imagine a man with a beam in his eye. Try putting a beam in your eye. You are dead. Whoever judges without using mercy is dead. The one who looks only at all the straws in the eye of others is dead in the heart.
In this regard, Saint Cyril of Alexandria comments: “Jesus convinces us with irrefutable evidence to do not want to judge others and to scrutinize ours. In fact, He is the one who heals those who have a contrite heart and frees us from spiritual diseases. In fact, if the sins that overwhelm us are greater and more serious than those of others, why do we reproach them without worrying about our sins? All those who want to live with piety and especially those who have the task of educating others will benefit from this command of Christ. If they are virtuous and temperate, giving the examples of Gospel life through their actions, they will gently rebuke those who have not decided to do the same, reminding them that they must take as a model the way of living that conform to the virtues of the masters. “(Commentary on the Gospel of Luke 6, PG 72, 604)
In short, in the parable of the straw in the eye of his brother, Jesus asks us for an attitude that makes us able to meet the other with total openness to relate to God with the trust of children. Therefore we judge not to punish but to share, to correct ourselves (to stand with) fraternally to go to Christ and graft ourselves to Him, the tree of life.
2) The good tree. A love without conditions, this is the law of God.
With the parable of the tree that bears fruit, Jesus tells us that to truly believe in him means to practice the good of others and not selfishness, while the person who does not commit to imitate him will have difficulty doing good because his heart is sterile.
To conclude, one can say: no one will be judged on the basis of rules imposed on him from the outside, but on what happens to him in his heart. It is necessary to be converted, which involves the overturning of one’s heart, a conversion of the mind.
The apostle James calls the law of God “the law of freedom” (Jas 2, 11-12). This apostle invites us to speak and act like persons who must be judged according to the law of freedom.
The law of love is a law of freedom. It is that of the “free” that in Latin means also son because “free” in the family concept of the Roman world of those times is that part of the family that is opposed to “slaves”. They are children. Our law is that of “children”. And what law do the children have? The law of liberty, the law of children, that is, the law of love, because, having received the love of mother and father, they know how to love themselves and others like themselves, as they are loved. This is the only law. And whoever loves the neighbor does all the law. This is the law of freedom.
And James continues: And the judgment will be without mercy for those who have not used mercy. Because God does not make a judgment, but we do it in our concrete life in relationships with others. If I judge the other, I judge God and condemn God who loves the other as he loves me. So I reject God’s love. So I reject God. The only sin is not loving the other, it is the judgment of the other, it is the condemnation of the other. And ‘the other who is wrong, because the other, be sure, always wrong! We are the ones who do it right. Yet God does not judge him, he forgives him. Because it is clear that he thinks wrong if he thought right I would think the same thing too! We always think so.
And then continues: mercy, however, always has the best in judgment. This is the beautiful law of freedom, to which we can convert.
An example of this conversion is that of St. Paul. This Apostle did not convert from sin to goodness, he converted from the “perfection” of the ancient law observed to the end, up to persecuting Christians because they were a sect that was not good. His conversion was from justice to the knowledge of God who loves everyone.
This is the justice of God. From the law to the Gospel.
May I be allowed to compare a small reality with the great one of Saint Paul and to affirm that even consecrated virgins are an example of conversion to the love of Christ recognized as Spouse.
As ESI recalls: “The following of the Lord consists in a continuous conversion, in a progressive adherence to Him: it is a process that affects all dimensions of existence – corporeal and affective, intellectual, volitional and spiritual – and extends throughout the duration of life, since no consecrated person “can ever believe that he has completed the gestation of that new man who experiences within himself, in every circumstance of life, the same sentiments of Christ”. The grace of consecration in the Ordo virginum defines and configures the spiritual physiognomy of the person in a stable way, orients it in the path of existence, sustains it and strengthens it in an ever more generous response to the call “(Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Education on the Ordo Virginum, Ecclesiae Sponsae Imago, No, 74-75). These consecrated women testify to us that if we become converted to Christ who invites us to dwell in him to make his glad tidings dwelling in us, we will always understand better that the true meaning of God commandment is not to be an imposition but to be a communication of love. The “ command’ to convert is an invitation of love, which Christ addresses to his disciples to enter into communion with him, so that hey may accept his offer of fraternal friendship.
on Lk 6: 39 – 45
CYRIL; The Lord added to what had gone before a very necessary parable, as it is said, And he spoke 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 to 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 you also followers of me, as I am of Christ. Since Christ, therefore, judged not, why judge you? For He came not to judge the world, but to show mercy.
THEOPHYL. Or else, If you judge another, and in the very same way sin yourself, are not you like to the blind leading the blind? For how can you lead him to good when you also yourself commit sin? For the disciple is not above his master. If therefore you sin, who think yourself a master and guide, where will he be who is taught and led by you? For he will be the perfect disciple who is as his master.
THEOPHYL; 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 you against the violent, and avarice against the grasping, how can you with your corrupt heart cure his corruption? If even your 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.
AUG. 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 your 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, who wish to point out as His imitators, He added, The disciple is not above his master.
THEOPHYL. But the Lord introduces another parable taken from the same figure, as follows, but why see you the mote (that is, the slight fault) which is in your brother’s eye, but the beam which is in your own eye (that is, your great sin) you regard not?
THEOPHYL; 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 can you say to your brother, Brother let me cast out the mote that is in your eye if you see not the beam that is in your own eye?
CYRIL; 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.
THEOPHYL. 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, You hypocrite, first cast the beam out of your own eye, &c.
CYRIL; That is to say, first show yourself clean from great sins, and then afterward shall you give counsel to your neighbor, who is guilty only of slight sins.
BASIL; 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.
THEOPHYL; Our Lord continues the words which He had begun against the hypocrites, saying, For a good tree brings not forth corrupt fruit; i.e. as if He says, If you would have a true and unfeigned righteousness, what you set forth in words make up also in works, for the hypocrite though he pretends to be good is not good, who does evil works; and the innocent though he be blamed, is not, therefore, evil, who does good works.
TITUS BOS. But take not these words to thyself as an encouragement to idleness, for the tree is moved conformably to its nature but you have the exercise of free will; and every barren tree has been ordained for some good, but you were created to the good work of virtue.
ISIDORE PELEUS; 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?
CHRYS. 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; 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, 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 the 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.
THEOPHYL; 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 enclosed 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; But having shown 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 brings forth that which is good, and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth that which is evil.
THEOPHYL; 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 shows 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 speaks.
CHRYS. 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.
THEOPHYL; 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.