25 June, 2018. Monday day of Week 12

1st Reading: 2 Kings (17:5-8, 13-15, 18)

Exile of the ten northern tribes of Israel, for not listening to the prophets

The king of Assyria invaded all the land and came to Samaria; for three years he besieged it. In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria captured Samaria; he carried the Israelites away to Assyria. He placed them in Halah, on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.
This occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They had worshipped other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had introduced.
Yet the Lord warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the law that I commanded your ancestors and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.” They would not listen but were stubborn, as their ancestors had been, who did not believe in the Lord their God. They despised his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their ancestors, and the warnings that he gave them. They went after false idols and became false; they followed the nations that were around them, concerning whom the Lord had commanded them that they should not do as they did. Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight; none was left but the tribe of Judah alone.

Resp. Psalm (Ps 60)

R./: Hear us, O Lord, and help us

O God, you have rejected us and broken our defenses;
you have been angry; rally us! (R./)
You have rocked the country and split it open;
repair the cracks in it, for it is tottering.
You have made your people feel hardships;
you have given us stupefying wine. (R./)
Have not you, O God, rejected us,
so that you go not forth, O God, with our armies?
Give us aid against the foe,
for worthless is the help of men. (R./)

Gospel: Matthew (7:1-5)

How we judge others determines our own judgment by God

Jesus said to his disciples,”Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbour, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour’s eye.”


Learning humility from experience

After two centuries of schism, the story of the ten northern tribes comes to a fiery end with their capital city, Samaria, stormed and captured by the Assyrians. The people left alive after the three year siege are marched into exile and historical oblivion. By this stern judgment of God, most of Abram’s descendants, ten out of the twelve tribes, were suppressed by a gentile nation for whom they were supposed to be a blessing. Yet, in the gospel we are told not to judge others. Is God, we wonder, above his own law of compassion and forgiveness?
The mystery of divine providence cannot be presented in any simple way that would explain why some are chosen and others seem unchosen. At times the question is squarely faced in the Bible – for instance in today’s reading from 2 Kings ?without the answer being utterly persuasive. Yes, the northern tribes did not keep God’s commandments; but neither did the remaining tribe of Judah. And while Jerusalem, their capital, was razed to the ground (2 Kings 25) they survived the Babylonian exile and became a remnant group who rebuilt the Holy City and prepared for the coming of the Messiah. Humble people will not lose the promised land, the divine blessing, for God always remembers his promise in their regard. The humble find their strength in God and then show kindliness towards the neighbour, at God’s call.

The splinter and the plank

We can imagine Jesus smiling as he uses the image of someone with a plank in their eye struggling to take a splinter out of someone else’s eye. Humour can be a disarming way of conveying an uncomfortable truth. Jesus is drawing attention to the human tendency to be more aware of the faults of others than of one’s own. An awareness of our own failings keeps us humble. Knowing ourselves, warts and all, and, indeed, loving ourselves, warts and all, is a good basis for relating to others. Knowing our limitations, our weaknesses, we then try to work on them, as best as we can. Jesus is saying in today’s gospel that working on our own failings should be a higher priority for us than working on the failings of others. Jesus was no doubt aware that addressing our own failings is a much more demanding task than addressing the failings of others. Hence his challenging call in the gospel to look to ourselves first before looking to others. When we look to ourselves, however, we always do so with our eyes on the Lord. Indeed, we look to him before we look to ourselves, just as we look to ourselves before we look to others. The awareness of the Lord’s love for us frees us to look at ourselves without anxiety and the Spirit of his love in our hearts empowers us to grow into his likeness more fully. [MH].

One Comment

  1. Brian Fahy says:

    The plank in my eye
    One day, in the west of Ireland, I was sitting talking with my dear mother, now an old lady in her 80s, and I was recalling the pleasant nature of my father, now long gone from us. He was a very kind man, I said, and very gentle and patient. My mother listened patiently to this paean of praise, smiling quietly to herself and then she replied, ‘yes, Brian, your father was a kind man and a gentleman and a patient man, but he liked his own way and bag to put it in.’
    I roared laughing at that description even as I recognised the accuracy of what my mother said, and my mother had not finished. As my laughing subsided she added, ‘and you are a lot like him yourself!’
    We do not know ourselves fully and we certainly do not know ourselves as others see and know us. To that extent we are partially blind, all of us and stand in need of being told sometimes, for our own benefit, a few home truths.
    Home truths are often the hardest for us to see, and certainly the hardest for us to recognise and accept. They are the closest to us and if we are not in harmony with them they make us feel very uncomfortable. Our eyes are forever looking outward at the world around us and we see quite clearly what there is to see out there, but closer to home we lose perspective and are even blind and unaware of what is right beside us.
    In order to see what is close up, what we are really like, we need the aid of a mirror, of a reflection that we can look into and contemplate, just like the mirror we look into each morning when we rise and wash. That mirror is quite simply reflection, the silent time that we give to contemplation. We have to look into that mirror and allow the mirror to give back the true message that we need to hear. That mirror is the Lord himself.
    This morning I sat quietly after reading the gospel and asked myself, and asked the Lord, what is the plank in my own eye. What is my blindness? What am I not seeing in my daily life? The answer came back to me…you are not doing this enough. I am not sitting still with the Lord enough so that the Lord may affirm and strengthen me in my days now.
    I looked across my room and saw pictures and photos on the wall, of my beloved wife, of my beloved parents, and of some beautiful wild Irish flowers that I had bought one time in Louisburg to remind me of the girl I had loved and lost to sudden death. These are precious pictures of precious people now gone before me. If I only look at them I will be lost in past memories, and past memories cannot sustain life now, today.
    Prayer is our living power for life. Not the saying of prayers, not babbled words, but stillness in the presence of the Lord who loves us all and always. In that stillness we give the Lord the chance to speak to us, to direct us as we reflect, and to help us see the plank in our own eye.
    The Lord will affirm you in your own life and will give you the confidence to believe in yourself as truly as you believe in the Lord. He will also let you know that you are not alone. When we discover confidence in ourselves and the company of the Lord we will be able to help others discover these same gifts.
    You could also give them a bag to put them in!
    Brian Fahy
    25 June 2018

Join the Discussion

Keep the following in mind when writing a comment

  • Your comment must include your full name, and email. (email will not be published). You may be contacted by email, and it is possible you might be requested to supply your postal address to verify your identity.
  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger. Comments containing vulgarities, personalised insults, slanders or accusations shall be deleted.
  • Keep to the point. Deliberate digressions don't aid the discussion.
  • Including multiple links or coding in your comment will increase the chances of it being automati cally marked as spam.
  • Posts that are merely links to other sites or lengthy quotes may not be published.
  • Brevity. Like homilies keep you comments as short as possible; continued repetitions of a point over various threads will not be published.
  • The decision to publish or not publish a comment is made by the site editor. It will not be possible to reply individually to those whose comments are not published.