Gospel Lectio Divina, 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel Lectio Divina, 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time

David Kilby

READ

Lk 6:39-45

Jesus told his disciples a parable, “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’ when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.

“A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not pick figs from thornbushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles. A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”


MEDITATE

when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher.

Jesus wants me to be like him. What does that mean, exactly? For one thing, it means not sitting on the sidelines. Jesus’ call to conversion is powerful here. He is calling his disciples to step out of the fray, to be more than human. To be like him means to be a child of God, to do things differently, to buck the status quo and choose what he has to offer over what the world has to offer. As a result, we will receive the deepest desires of our hearts, the things we were made to experience. His call to discipleship makes perfect sense. In fact, without Jesus’ call to be like him, I don’t know what the deepest desires of my heart are even doing there. I have desires I don’t know how to fulfill, but Christ gives me hope. There are longings in my heart, I don’t know why they’re there, but they’re there. Jesus is the only one who gives me a clear vision of fulfilling those desires. He alone has the words of eternal life. There is nowhere else to go. He is inviting me to be like him. That is how the deepest desires of my heart will be fulfilled: by following him, training with him and becoming a child of God to whom God can say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” 

“Remove the wooden beam from your eye”

Is Jesus telling me to just let my brother continue a life of sin? No. Is he simply saying I have no right to reprimand my brother because I have my own sins to deal with? No and yes. I shouldn’t want any of my loved ones to continue a life of sin, but I shouldn’t want myself to live a life of sin either. Jesus doesn’t just say leave the issue alone. He has the same concern about sin as I do, for both my brother and for me. I just tend to focus on the sins of others while forgetting about my own. That’s why Jesus doesn’t simply say “You hypocrite” and just leave it at that. He doesn’t simply say “who are you to talk when you struggle with sins yourself?” He wants me to change. He wants me to remove the beam in my eye so I can help my brother. It’s easy to judge other people when they do the wrong thing, but it’s just as easy to brush it off and say, “It’s none of my business”. If I love the person, it is my business. The hard part is straightening out my own life so I can see clearly and offer the right kind of advice to the ones I love who are struggling with a sin. So many times, I just don’t want to go through my own cleansing process before helping others. Sometimes I deflect the blame off myself by blaming other people for their faults. Other times I deflect the responsibility of helping others with their sins by saying “I’m not one to judge because I have my own problems.” Both reactions to the sins of my brother or sister are wrong. The right thing and the hardest thing to do are often the same. In this case, the right thing to do is to go through the crucible myself, repent and amend my life so I can be a true disciple of Christ. This is also the hardest thing to do.  


“For every tree is known by its own fruit”

Trees have it easy. They don’t have to choose their nourishment. It comes to them (unless it’s poorly treated, of course). But humans are strange. We can willingly refuse nourishment. When it comes to spiritual nourishment, we can willfully refuse that which we know nourishes our souls. This results in bad fruit, and everyone around me will see it. When I neglect my soul, it shows in my actions and my words. Rotten fruit is bad for the consumer. Similarly, the recipients of my bad actions and words will be negatively affected by them. On the other hand, good fruit nourishes those who consume it; likewise, those who are on the receiving end of the words and deeds of a virtuous soul will be nourished by those words and deeds.

“from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”

In the parlance of modern speaking, cursing is commonplace. In fact, cursing is so common that it often doesn’t even mean that the person cursing is necessarily mad in any way. Our hearts are so disconnected from our words that our words often don’t mean anything. A curse will often be placed in a sentence while adding absolutely no value to the sentence. It’s just dead weight, excessive letters, a waste of breath. As a writer, this annoys me. I don’t merely dismiss the problem as being simply a pet peeve of mine. It’s a symptom of a deeper issue. I believe, as a culture, our hearts have become so numb that our words are often meaningless. That is the logical application of Christ’s words here. If we are cursing when we speak, it indicates either an overflow of anger from the heart or an overflow of numbness in the heart. If we think every word we speak doesn’t mean something, then we are being ignorant to the movements in our heart. Indeed, our words can mean nothing if we want them to mean nothing. But they can also mean something great. They can express love, share wisdom, encourage, comfort, console. They can also spread bitterness and hatred, among other bad things. Christ spoke words of wisdom and love, because that is what overflowed from his heart. I pray that my words do the same.

PRAY

Eternal Word,

You were there in the beginning. You spoke, and the world came into existence. I pray that my words reflect your power, love, wisdom, truth, goodness, and beauty. Give me the humility I need to recognize my own sins, the courage I need to remove them from my life, and the compassion to be there for others in word and deed. Teach me to be your disciple. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

LISTEN

Jesus continues with his life-changing teachings. These teachings prepare us for Lent, so now is a good time to focus on Christ’s lessons because taking them to heart and remembering them will help us on our Lenten journey. We began the liturgical year with the story of his birth and early years. Now we walk side by side with the great teacher who taught even the scribes at the young age of 12 in the Temple. If they were wise to listen to him then, we’d be wise to listen to him now. Listen to his wise teachings, and you will be a tree planted in the Garden of the Lord, bearing fruit even in old age (Psalm 92:14).

 

Kilby is a freelance writer from New Jersey and managing editor of Catholic World Report.
 
Glory to the Father The Son and The Holy Spirit