Friday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time
“Remove the wooden beam from your eye first ….”
When you make your nightly examination of conscience, and prepare monthly for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, there’s a simple way to recollect yourself for the needed self-scrutiny. After all, if it’s been a long day or month, we can feel overwhelmed and unsure how to assess our efforts to live (or our failures to live) in Christ.
This simple means is to recall that all the commandments of the spiritual life converge in Jesus Christ. What does this mean? Today’s Gospel passage offers a concrete example. The imagery with which Jesus preaches today seems only to be about the challenge of loving our neighbor: specifically, a sinful (“blind”) neighbor. But the two great commands of Jesus—to love God fully, and to love our neighbor as our self—converge in Him.
We are not to look down on our sinful brother, but rather to look up to him. This is possible because of our authentic need for humility. Christian humility is in one sense nothing more than honesty. Both my brother and I are sinners. We are equal in this. But Jesus calls me to serve as brother as if I were serving Jesus Himself. For this reason, from my state of sinfulness, I look up to my sinful brother. From this stance, I may help him remove the splinter from his eye. Jesus, of course, never sinned, but He did “become sin”—in the phrase of St. Paul—so that in my sinful brother I can see the Jesus whom I am to serve.