|The Eighth Sunday in Ordinary
Psalms 92:2-3, 13-16
First Corinthians 15:54-58
Did your parents ever tell you to “watch your tongue” and you tried to do it? I mean stick your tongue out and try to look at it. That’s not so easy to do physically, and just as difficult to do verbally.
The first reading today has a list of proverbs from the Book of Sirach, which provide some food for watching. One’s speech will disclose one’s faults and how one’s mind is leaning. Praise for a person should be saved until that person has spoken, not before. Words can be counted, but how a person lives and what is spoken determines if that person can be counted upon.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks in little proverbs or self-obvious questions. A good tree produces good fruit, but not a bad one. It is difficult to see the good things or faults of another, when your own eye has a “wooden beam” in your own eye. The goodness that is inside a person will be revealed as coming from a store house. Deeds and actions flow easily from the goodness within. "From the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks."
These readings seem to tell us to watch our tongues and so we should, but there is more upon which to reflect today. Words do reveal the heart and mind, but even more do the words we call gestures, actions and doings.
We can not mean, sometimes, the things we say and we have the vocal power to reverse the injury by other words which we do mean. It is more difficult not to mean the actions we perform. “Watch your actions” and you will know more who you are. What Jesus is asking of His disciples, is to begin watching how much of Him (Jesus), is in them and how their gestures reveal Him. We are “inside-out” people. We are in a constant process of going outside or letting it all hang out.
If Jesus were speaking to us, His disciples today, He would say something like this:
“Can a wild driver teach his son to drive?”If a person remains silent, that person’s mystery is preserved. When a person begins speaking the mystery of that person begins dissolving. Jesus is asking His disciples to learn from Him, that actions speak truer than words, though words have their own limited power of revelation. Others grow to know us and what is in our insides. The challenge for His disciples and for us, is whom do we want to reveal and how.
Those who read this Daily Reflection each week do get to know me little-by-little, through my words. You might think I am quite the sage, or spiritual master. You might think I am very learned or funny or even brilliant. Well you go right on thinking what you want. Just from these words you might know somethings, but not as much as if you watched me in my Daily Actions. Even our selves do not know all that is within us, but if we can gently “watch our steps” we might grow to enjoy how much goodness is in our store houses. We, as with the early Disciples, are growing in our letting Him more deeply in, so that we can more fruitfully let Him out.
We may be surrounded by folks who are great displays of God’s goodness to them and through them. They might not even know this process is going on. Christ plays through our faces into a world that longs to see Him in action. The actions might be patiently lying in a hospital bed or swinging on a summer porch. We will do who we are and our words bespeak our hearts, but our actions blaze out our truer selves in bold letters. It is most helpful to remember that not all of our words and deeds are purely of God; we have much of self that is in process. No one person reveals the fullness of God, that’s Who Jesus is. We are baptized into Him, but it takes grace and much time to empty out the self and let Christ occupy the residence.
I am done writing words now and I wish that my actions could flow as easily. The real tension for us all, is to stay faithful to God’s slowly filling up my store house and my slowly sharing out all God’s good gifts given me. This is our real holiness, that we deal out our indoors, even while our doors aren’t open all the way and all our shelves not totally filled. The test is not perfection, but patient perseverance.
“I will sing to the Lord for his goodness to me, I will sing the name of the Lord, Most High.”
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