10 Jul 2022
The Gospel. St. Luke vi. 36.
Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.
“Judge not,” Jesus commands. Yet, our world is filled with just this sort of judgment against others. For example, the electronic communications media including the internet is filled with it. Of course, every statement we make is a sort of judgement, and our every action involves using the free will that God has given us. Yet Jesus rightly forbids our judging, for we are viewing things as though through a distorted set of glasses. We are truly like the blind leading the blind.
Our distorted vision of things is because of our vices. And yet, our vices are often tied to the virtues we have purposely built up in ourselves. For example, the virtue of frankness can become the viciousness of gossiping. The person who is liberal and generous may be the same person who favors harshness from the government, in the workplace, and from the police. The stable, conscientious individual who we have chosen to steward the government’s finances may for all that not be able to see the foolishness of indiscriminate spending. How often we have seen reformers are often guilty of throwing out the baby with the bath water. The obedient followed Hitler as easily as God. The careful may be mean, and the modest, cold. The well-intentioned may be busy bodies. Jesus justly cries, ‘Woe unto you hypocrites for ye are like unto whitened sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” (Matthew 23.27) In summary, we understand ourselves no better than we know our neighbours.
So, when we beg God to cleanse us of sins which are in some cases secret faults, we are asking Him to help us with our shortcomings that we may even not fully recognize. And yet our whole salvation depends upon a real clarity in our vision of ourselves and others: “This is the judgement,” Jesus declares, “that light is come into the world, but men chose darkness rather than light.” (John 3.19)
God allows us our own way in order to adopt us as free children. We must experience the vanity of our purposes and the weakness of our power so that we are willing to be redeemed soul and body, to be made a new creation. And we must love that by which we are transformed. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it. Outside ourselves we find a light by which we can see ourselves. The light shines in our hearts to give knowledge. By His light, our knowledge of self and of others is increased.
In this way we love and choose rightly, not because we first loved God, but because He loved us and gave Himself for us.
To bring about this change, God must be our ruler and guide. God is our way to Himself as the true end of our life’s journey. Jesus is the way which is both light and life: not only a light shining out of heaven, but also a life into which we can enter to carry us over to be with Him. Here and now in this blessed sacrament He transforms the earthly bread we offer to make it His glorious body, the bread of angels, the food of heaven. We offer to God the sacrifice which is His due and give to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all praise, honor, and glory, now and ever. Amen.
Source: The Fourth Sunday after Trinity by W. J. Hankey
Bishop Edwin Tompkins