Daily Reflection
September 10th, 1999
Dennis Hamm, S.J.

1 Timothy 1:1-2, 12-14
Luke 6:39-42


When I hear Jesus say, "How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me remove the splinter from your eye,' and do not see the wooden beam in your own eye?", I get mad.  I want to say, "Call it a wooden beam if you like, but if I can't see it, how can I remove it?"

Then I imagine Jesus saying, "Right.  I'm trying to tell you that you are quick and sharp to spot the fine fault in your brother or sister but don't see the fat fault in yourself.  If you can't see it, you need outside help.  So you better ask for it."

"Asking in prayer?"

"That would be good.  Or ask another human being you trust to tell you if they notice anything odd, annoying or even wrong in your behavior."

"Like an admonitor?"

"It's done.  Some folks are humble enough to ask for that kind of help.  Here's a tip: Sometimes the thing you are quickest to criticize in another is something you are an expert in because you have perfected the same fault yourself.  Check that out next time you have the urge to redesign someone else's ways."

At this point I notice something in the picture of St. Paul in the first reading:  "I was once a blasphemer, a persecutor, a man filled with arrogance, but because I did not know what I was doing in my unbelief, I have been treated mercifully, and the grace of our Lord has been granted me in overflowing measure, along with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus."

The pre-conversion Saul was a guy with a beam in his eye that he couldn't see.  He got "outside help" in the form of an appearance of the risen Jesus when he was on the road to Damascus.  We don't even know if Saul/Paul asked for help, but as a devout Jew he probably prayed for wisdom occasionally.  Ironically, when he was struck blind (temporarily) he could finally see.  That makes asking for help to see the beam in my eye all the scarier.  But maybe that's what it takes.


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