Sunday Scriptures

Removing the Beams from Our Eyes

By Father Christopher M. O’Connor

Have you ever seen anyone walk around with a wooden beam in his eye? When I read this Sunday’s Gospel, I picture someone with a huge piece of wood in his eye. I think the Lord Jesus is using absurd imagery here to make a point.

How can anyone with a huge piece of wood sticking out of his eye help anyone? You can barely walk straight, let alone try to remove a splinter from someone else’s eye.

The huge beam is symbolic of our own sinfulness and the Lord Jesus believes it is ludicrous for us to point out the sins of others while not addressing our own sinfulness. We see this daily in our culture with the constant “outrage” about one thing to next, especially when individuals go into outrage without knowing the facts.

With the 24-hour news cycles starving for anything to make a headline, instant condemnations via tweets, posts and blogs and a desire to sound the most outraged, individuals condemn without knowing all the facts. Many of those individuals end up looking foolish when the truth comes out, but they hope that people have moved on to the next “outrage” and do not hold them accountable.

Jesus calls us to look at ourselves before we rush off and point out how others have failed. Far too often, we rejoice in the failures of others as though that somehow makes us superior. This what Jesus is calling hypocritical. Only a person who has acknowledged his or her own faults and failures and has gone to the Lord can then lead another to the light.

A Saintly Priest

Last month, we lost one of the truly saintly priests of the diocese, Msgr. Vincent A. Keane. Msgr. Keane was the rector of the college seminary program when I attended there. At the end of each academic year, we would have our individual final evaluations. No one really enjoys being evaluated, but hearing Msgr. Keane make the observations it was easier to swallow. The reason being, he was a man of deep and true prayer. I would often see him in the Blessed Sacrament chapel, or praying his breviary while walking in the parking lot or with the rosary in his hand. He was a man of God who truly loved God.

When he spoke, you knew it came from a place of love and a true desire to help the seminarian grow in that same love. Msgr. Keane was no blind guide, but one who walked in the light of Christ.

Self-reflection and self-examination are difficult, but as we hear in theis week’s first reading from Sirach: “As the test of what the potter molds is in the furnace, so in tribulation is the test of the just.”

The tribulation of seeing our own sins and giving them over to the Lord can free us from the power they have over us. We then can better see how to help our brothers and sisters, not with a superior attitude but one of love rooted in Christ.

St. Paul reminds in our second reading to “be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

We can only be devoted to the work of the Lord when we acknowledge our own weakness and sin, imploring His mercy not only for forgiveness but a radical change in Him.

This our last Sunday in Ordinary Time before we begin our Lenten journey and I would like to propose a Lenten practice to help us see what needs to be done to remove the beam from our eye so we can help our brothers and sisters with their splinters.

A Lenten Practice

Starting on Ash Wednesday, make a 54-day novena with the Holy Rosary. The 54th day will be Divine Mercy Sunday, the week after Easter. The first 27 days pray for the grace to remove the beam (or sin) from your life. The second 27 days, pray in thanksgiving for the graces you have received.

This beautiful practice will enable you to place your hand in that of our Blessed Mother and she will lead you through the desert of Lent to the glory of Easter.

May Mary, the Immaculata, help us to remove the beam from our eye, so we can see the beauty of her Son.


Readings for Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sirach 27:4-7

Psalm 92:2-3, 13-14, 15-16

1Corinthians 15:54-58

Luke 6:39-45


Father O’Connor is the pastor of  St. Mary’s Winfield-Blessed Virgin Mary Help of Christians parish, Woodside.

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