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Sweet Smelling Fruit
Friday of the Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time
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.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, this Gospel challenges me. Bless me during this time I spend reflecting on the wooden beam in my own eye. I pray to you with the confidence of a child who knows your love despite being flawed.
- Blind Guides: St. Jerome famously said that ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. Without knowledge of Christ our teacher, we would truly be blind. We would be in danger of falling into a pit and bringing others with us. Prayerful people are able to exercise the spiritual gift of wisdom on their behalf and for the sake of others. Wisdom keeps us out of spiritual, emotional, and physical pitfalls. “For to the one who pleases God, he gives wisdom and knowledge and joy…” (Ecclesiastes 2:26).
- Like the Teacher: Jesus told us that “when fully trained” we could be like him. We become fully trained when we sit at the feet of Our Lord and listen to him, as did Mary, Lazarus’s sister. We become fully trained when we follow Christ with docility and wholeheartedly, as did Matthew when he left his customs post. We become fully trained when we suffer with Christ, as did the Blessed Mother and Mary Magdalene during Christ’s passion. All of these actions on our part (listening, following, suffering) help to transform us into other Christs. The process of transformation starts well before heaven but will culminate in eternity, where we will be perfected by God.
- The Wooden Beam: Blind people don’t see and neither do those with a wooden beam in their eye. Seeing ourselves as we really are, with our strengths and weaknesses, is a byproduct of getting to know Christ. When we encounter Christ, we learn that we are adopted children of God the Father. As his beloved children, we strive to live up to the Father’s expectations for us. Our failures we take to confession. Our strengths we use to serve the Lord in the mission he has given us. All the while, we are growing in self knowledge. Wooden beams–any unresolved prejudices or self seeking behaviors–can be extracted when we notice them if we sincerely repent and seek forgiveness. The slow transformation of our souls by God’s grace is a cause for humility and gratitude. Only when we realize how much the Lord has done for us do we attempt to help others with their splinters.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, my eyes are full of wooden beams, and so I say with Bartimaeus, “Master, I want to see” (Mark 10:51). By your grace, may I be so attentive to your word that I bear pure, sweet-smelling fruit and lead others not into a pit, but ever closer to you.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pray a decade of the rosary for the people in my life who seem trapped in a pattern of sin.
For Further Reflection: Read and reflect on Mark 10:46-52, the story of Bartimaeus.
Written by Maribeth Harper.