The Blindness of Pride

Luke 6: 39-42
1 Tim 1: 1-2,12-14 / Psa 16

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
(Luke 6:41)

Let us not presume to be wise,
On our high chair giving advice;
And should we start to criticize
Make sure there’s no log in our eyes.

Jesus told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully taught will be like his teacher. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, `Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” (Luke 6:39-42)

Reflection

Among the lessons that Jesus taught the crowd that day was one about leadership. He was aware that there were Pharisees and scribes among the sick people who had come to be healed, and he wanted them to see their own short-sightedness and lack of vision. Seeing a blind man among the sick, Jesus said, “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?” Then, as a teacher who would reprimand his students about their lofty opinion of themselves, He told them, “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.”

Being judgmental, or prejudice is a form of spiritual blindness that can afflict both lay and religious leaders alike who do not bother to take an “inner eye check-up” or examination of conscience periodically. Just as a yearly medical check-up is prudent to determine our health and physical condition, we must also conduct a regular spiritual examination of our attitudes, and our relationships with others and with Jesus Christ. As St. Paul said in his letter to the Corinthians, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!” (1 Cor.13:5). This is the reason why we are encouraged to go to confession and examine our conscience every so often. We also attend a recollection, or an annual retreat where we can gauge through interactions with our brothers and sisters the performance of our duties as followers and leaders of Jesus Christ.

St. Paul never allowed himself to become complacent about his role and influence over his followers. He was always aware of his grave responsibility to be a role model in preaching the Gospel. But he was also humble enough to accord the honor to the Lord Jesus. He said in today’s first reading, “I am grateful to Him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because He considered me trustworthy in appointing me to the ministry. I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man, but I have been mercifully treated because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief” (1Tim.1:12-14) St. Paul was blinded for a time before he was able to “see” his mission in life when God called him to serve.

Let us keep our vision clear of the “logs” of prejudice and self-centeredness if we must be Christ’s leaders in preaching the Gospel. Examine our motives and attitudes constantly, lest we fall into the pit of complacency and pride. Train and “exercise” our hearts and minds regularly by reading Scriptures and listening to our Teacher in meditative prayer. Be assured that the Holy Spirit will be our guide.

Lord, grant us the humility to recognize our limitations, to admit our mistakes, and to accept our need for advice. Help us learn to praise than to criticize, and to see people at their best rather than at their worst, as You see in us. Amen.

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