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Eighth Sunday 0f Ordinary Time C: February 27, 2022

Luke 6:39 – 45

Fr. John tran

Whenever these passages of Luke's Gospel are read, what comes to my mind are several of these Sayings of the Dessert Fathers.The sayings I have in mind deal with the blindness we too easily develop, regarding how we see ourselves in relation to other people.

There were monks living in the desert from 350 to 500 A.D. who tried to live out the gospel is a serious way by living far from the distractions of the world around them.But they were human beings, just like us.They left behind many stories and sayings.Here is a story that illustrates today's gospel:

There were two monks returning to the monastery from a journey.One was an older monk who had lived in the desert many years;the other was a young monk who has live there only a few years.They came to a stream which had a strong current.At the side of the stream was a beautiful young woman who as staring at the stream in distress, afraid to cross.The old monk simply picked up the young woman, carried her across the the stream, put her down, and continued his journey back to the monastery.

The young monk was scandalized at what the old monk did.Monks were not supposed to look at a woman, much less touch one, or pick on up and carry her across a stream.For the whole rest of the journey of many miles, the young monk judged the old monk and was planning what he was going to say to correct the old monk.

When they were almost at the monastery gates, the young monk could not hold any longer. He told the old monk that monks should never look at a woman; yet the old monk had picked up the beautiful woman and carried her across the stream! The old monk turned to the young one and said, kindly:I picked the woman up, brought her safely across the stream and left her there.You have carried her all the way back to the monastery.

Jesus brings us back to reality in today's Gospel, and in many of his parables recounted in Luke. In the parable of the blind leading the blind, we are brought face to face with our own blindness.Jesus forcefully reminds us that when we judge someone, we are often blinded to our own failings, which very often resemble the behavior in another we are complaining about.In the case of the young monk mentioned above, he rashly assumed that the older monk had thought about the woman he had carried all the way home;in fact, it was the young monk who had done so.

This section of Luke's gospel begins with Jesus admonition against judging others.With these parables, Jesus is bring home the fact that not only is judging another wrong in itself, it makes us blind to ourselves.We are not focused on God or the gospel, but only on ourselves.Perhaps a blind person can be so isolated that his world becomes so small that it only has room for himself.There is no room for considering the needs of others clearly. It is certainly of no help for one who is blind to attempt to lead another person, blind or not.I am reminded of Helen Keller who became blind at a very young age.She was turned inward and, at first, could not perceive the help offered by Anne Sullivan who opened her to the outside world and the people in it.Our blindness does not need to be permanent; though we sometimes need a guide like the older monk in our Saying, who can put us in touch with Jesus himself.

The attitude of the young monk reminds us very much of the Pharisee's attitude toward the tax collectorlater in chapter 18 of Luke's gospel.The Pharisee goes to the Temple to pray, but only reminds God how good he is, butalso how bad the tax collector is.The Pharisee is focused only on himself, not God.He is blind to himself.The tax collector knows he is a sinner, and can only bow to God and say, 'Lord have mercy on me a sinner.'He knows who he is, and he needs God.The tax collector was focused on God only.That is the way we should be as we live out our lives in Christ.

But today's gospel passage takes us a little further.It does not stop at merely being blind in judging others, it call us to look at the fact that such behavior brings judgment on us.The comparison of the good tree and the bad tree shows the effect this blindness of self has; we become just as blind to God as we are to ourselves.If we are like the good tree we will bear good fruit springing from our very core like the fruit which came forth from the older monk.If we don't judge and put on the attitude that is Christ, goodness will spring forth from us.This, of course, is not automatic, but comes from embracing a life in which Jesus comes to be at its center.This is the movement from self absorption to absorption into God, when God is at our core.

One of the desert monks once committed a fault. A council was called to determine the punishment, but when the monks assembled it was noticed that Abba Moseswas not among them. The superior sent someone to say to him, “Come, for everyone is waiting for you. So, Abba Mosesgot up and went. He took a leaking jug, filled it with water, and carried it with him. When the others saw this they asked, “What is this, father?” The old man said to them, “My sins run out behind me, and I do not see them, and today I am coming to judge the error of another?”

So, we should leave all judgment to God and practice mercy and forgiveness, remembering the advice of saints: “When you point one finger of accusation at another, three of your fingers point at you.” Let us pay attention to the Jewish rabbi’s advice: “He who judges others favorably will be judged favorably by God.”Then God will be our core, our center, and we can reflect him and not ourselves.

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