Why is it that our vision is 20-20 when it comes to seeing the faults of others, but we wear blinders when it comes to noticing our own? We just don’t see them, so maybe they don’t exist. Or so we fool ourselves.
In today’s gospel, Jesus challenges us with the question: “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?” The answer, as painful as it may be, is that our faults are huge logs; the faults of others are splinters in comparison.
Perhaps the first step in removing the beam from our own eye requires being aware that it’s there. Perhaps Jesus is teaching us that the first task of a disciple is self-examination, to be aware of our blind spot. Could it be that this is what Jesus meant when he began his ministry in his hometown of Nazareth in the synagogue? It was there, in quoting Isaiah, that he announced the in-breaking of the reign of God.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord” (Lk 4:18-19).
Sadly, it was there in Nazareth – in blindness – that Jesus was first rejected.
Nevertheless, all the hopes and expectations promised in the Old Testament are being fulfilled in Jesus. The reign of God is breaking into the world. It cannot be stopped. How then are the disciples of Jesus – including us – to live in response to this divine rule? We begin by becoming aware of the beam in our own eye, our spiritual blindness. And in humbly acknowledging our blindness, Jesus will restore our sight. The great restoration is underway.
Deacon Manuel Valencia is on the staff at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.