This morning’s gospel puts me in mind of a couple of idioms like “where the rubber meets the road’ and “when push comes to shove.” I had already washed out my eyes because of feeling (in the left one) as if there was something like a splinter keeping me from seeing clearly. (It worked!) All this after a cursory look at news headlines, many of which circle around one of two things: the coronavirus spread and the political situation in our country. So how does all this come together in my consciousness this morning?
Here’s the text I’m working with: Jesus said to his disciples: “Stop judging that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye…?
Familiar? Of course, but do we really take Jesus at his word? He gets rather forceful a moment later. You hypocrite! he says, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.
I’m generally willing to pay attention to that directive. I know there are circumstances in people’s lives that seem to make them destined to act in ways contrary to my ethics. Lately, however, it all seems (to me) so patently clear that my opinions are the right ones. How is it possible to allow all points of view? Is there ever a time when I can admit that I am wrong?
I think that is definitely possible. The more difficult question is whether or not I can admit the “rightness” of my adversary. What that calls me to is research. A cavalier statement about someone else’s view without evidence to back it up is unfair at least and libelist at worst. Sometimes the best we can do is to do our research and when called on, offer it to those who will listen—with sources, of course—and pray for peace and enlightenment without rancor. Agreeing to disagree is a hallmark of mature relationship. It does not necessarily mean capitulation. And when the common good is at stake, it is our duty to speak the truth as we see it and trust that the Spirit of truth is our guide.
May we desire clear sight and work toward it each day in humility and courage so that our world will be a better place because of our presence here.