Sometimes I’m convinced that I have something in my eye but it turns out that my 70-year old eyes just need a little lubrication on occasion. That’s an easy fix as were the days when, as a child, I occasionally had to go to my mother for help with getting something tiny like a fleck of dirt or – at worst – an eyelash out of my eye. It was always amazing how much larger the offending material appeared than it really was.
Jesus must have been really disturbed by the judgmental behavior of his disciples in today’s gospel text to use such hyperbolic language about seeing clearly. It’s that quote from Matthew 7:1-5 where he warns them to stop judging unless they want to be similarly judged. His follow-up question points to just how serious an infraction judging people is. “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye” he says, “but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?” Even a wooden splinter would be quite painful.
It seems to me that judging others is one of our most common “tragic flaws.” We judge people by what they wear, how they style their hair, the color of their skin and where they live as represented by the accent in their speech. How ridiculous is that? One of the more recent red flags for harsh judgment is body art (tattoos) or piercings. Before judging why someone would want to “do that to their body,” we might want to think about that “why” question.
I could go on but I already clearly experienced the message in the middle of the second paragraph when I had to stop writing and put drops in my eyes. (This is not a joke. I really had to do that!) So here’s a suggestion that might make a difference in our consciousness. Before we decide to just “live and let live,” why not strike up a conversation with someone different in some way from you and see if you can come to understand just a bit more deeply why the person looks, speaks or acts in a different manner from you. If we do that, maybe we wouldn’t need so much help getting those planks out of our eyes!