Parables for the head and heart. LUKE 6:39–45
By Dawn Comissiong
We listen closely to Jesus’ parables in His sermon on the level stretch of ground, according to Luke’s gospel. They present a challenge to all His disciples. It is only by prayerfully seeking to grasp what the Master is teaching us that we can hope to faithfully act on His words and hand on His message to others.
Jesus addresses His disciples, and His first parable paints a humorous picture of a blind man attempting to lead another person. Can he ever hope to do that? “Surely both will fall into a pit?” Jesus ends by saying.
Here the Master-Teacher is explaining that His followers must try to understand His words, or we will be blinded by our lack of comprehension. How then can the Christian teacher try to teach another about gospel truths, without first taking time to hear and understand for himself?
This parable warns all teachers and leaders of becoming like blind guides themselves, making sure they first sit at Jesus’ feet and listen carefully and prayerfully.
Prayer moment: Jesus, my Lord and teacher, help me to make it my priority to sit at Your feet listening as You speak through the written word, or through the voice of other learned disciples. May I in turn teach others, guiding them safely to You. Make me ever aware of the pitfalls of wrong teaching, and never lead anyone to tumble headlong into error.
The gospel next points us to one of Jesus’ pithy sayings. “The disciple is not superior to his teacher; the fully trained disciple will always be like his teacher.” He will only teach what truths his teacher has taught. He will always remain true to the Master’s instruction, never changing or surpassing what he has been taught.
Prayer moment: Lord, I truly desire to be Your fully trained disciple, following You in every one of Your footsteps. Only give me the grace to spend time studying Your word and absorbing Your teachings, so I can pass them on to others.
To all His disciples, Jesus directs a serious warning with the famous image of the splinter and the plank. “Why do you observe the splinter in your brother’s eye and never notice the plank in your own?”
In His own picturesque way of talking, the Lord says to us that we must beware of the arrogance of passing judgement on others and exposing their sins, while at the same time being forgetful of our own greater offences. “Hypocrite!” Jesus calls us, “take the plank out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take out the splinter that is in your brother’s eye.”
The hypocrite in us blinds the disciple to their own sin and makes us easily able to point out another’s weakness. Does that mean that the true disciple may not correct a brother? Not at all! But any correction of another must be done in love, while humbly being aware of one’s personal shortcomings.
Prayer moment: My Jesus, how easy it is to fall into the trap of judging others, while I remain oblivious of my own serious misdeeds. Give me grace to always remember Your words, and humbly remove the plank in my own eye first, before ministering to anyone.
Today’s gospel reading ends with a cryptic parable, in which Jesus uses two fruit tree images. The fruit of a tree can tell us whether the tree is healthy. Examine the fruit and you can know if the tree it came from is sound or not.
In the same way, a person’s words and their life can reflect the state of their inner being, whether it is sound or not. Continuing the analogy, Jesus points out that the fruit will always tell us what variety of tree it comes from.
Jesus is teaching that we must look at a person’s actions and their words; they will show the person’s real worth. “For a man’s words flow out of what fills his heart.”
Lord, give me a discerning heart, so I may take care to assess others by the quality of the ‘fruit’ of their words and their life.
The gospel reflections for February were by Dawn Comissiong of the Eternal Light Community currently assisting the Sacred Heart, Delaford parish.