First Reading: From the Book of Second Kings 17:5-8, 13-15, 18
Vrs5 The king of Assyria invaded the whole country and, coming to Samaria, laid siege to it for three years.
Vrs6 In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria. He settled them in Halah on the Habor, a river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.
Vrs7 This happened because the Israelites had sinned against Yahweh their God who had brought them out of Egypt, out of the grip of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They worshipped other gods,
Vrs8 they followed the practices of the nations which Yahweh had dispossessed for them.
Vrs13 And yet through all the prophets and the seers, Yahweh had given Israel and Judah this warning, ‘Turn from your wicked ways and keep my commandments and my laws in accordance with the entire Law which I laid down for your fathers and delivered to them through my servants the prophets.’
Vrs14 But they would not listen, they were as stubborn as their ancestors, who had no faith in Yahweh their God.
Vrs15 They despised his laws and the covenant which he had made with their ancestors and the warnings which he had given them. Pursuing futility, they themselves became futile through copying the nations round them, although Yahweh had ordered them not to act as they did.
Vrs18 Because of which, Yahweh became enraged with Israel and thrust them away from him. The tribe of Judah was the only one left.
Responsorial Psalm: From Psalms 60:3, 4-5, 12-13
Vrs3 You have forced your people to drink a bitter draught, forced us to drink a wine that made us reel.
Vrs4 You gave a signal to those who fear you to let them escape out of range of the bow.
Vrs5 To rescue those you love, save with your right hand and answer us.
Vrs12 With God we shall do deeds of valour, he will trample down our enemies.
Gospel Reading: From the Gospel Account of Saint Matthew 7:1-5
Vrs1 ‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged;
Vrs2 because the judgements you give are the judgements you will get, and the standard you use will be the standard used for you.
Vrs3 Why do you observe the splinter in your brother’s eye and never notice the great log in your own?
Vrs4 And how dare you say to your brother, “Let me take that splinter out of your eye,” when, look, there is a great log in your own?
Vrs5 Hypocrite! Take the log out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye.
Theme: First take the log out of your own eye
How do you wish to be judged by others? Everybody is a critic, but who wants to be judged negatively? Judgmentalism is rampant, even among Christians. So how can we avoid this poisonous sin and not be contaminated by the world’s view of who is good and who is bad? “Thinking the best of other people” is necessary if we wish to grow in love. And kindliness in judgment is nothing less that a sacred duty. The Rabbis warned people: “He who judges his neighbor favorably will be judged favorably by God.”
Who can judge rightly?
How easy it is to misjudge and how difficult it is to be impartial in judgment. Our judgment of others is usually “off the mark” because we can’t see inside the person to their inner motives and intentions, or we don’t have access to all the facts, or we are swayed by instinct and unreasoning reactions to people. It is easier to find fault in others than in oneself.
Why did Jesus calls his critics hypocrites? Listen to Augustine of Hippo’s (354-430 A.D) explanation of this passage:
“The word hypocrite is aptly employed here, since the denouncing of evils is best viewed as a matter only for upright persons of goodwill. When the wicked engage in it, they are like impersonators, masqueraders, hiding their real selves behind a mask, while they portray another’s character through the mask. The word hypocrites in fact signifies pretenders. Hence we ought especially to avoid that meddlesome class of pretenders who under the pretense of seeking advice undertake the censure of all kinds of vices. They are often moved by hatred and malice.
“Rather, whenever necessity compels one to reprove or rebuke another, we ought to proceed with godly discernment and caution. First of all, let us consider whether the other fault is such as we ourselves have never had or whether it is one that we have overcome. Then, if we have never had such a fault, let us remember that we are human and could have had it. But if we have had it and are rid of it now, let us remember our common frailty, in order that mercy, not hatred, may lead us to the giving of correction and admonition. In this way, whether the admonition occasions the amendment or the worsening of the one for whose sake we are offering it (for the result cannot be foreseen), we ourselves shall be made safe through singleness of eye. But if on reflection we find that we ourselves have the same fault as the one we are about to reprove, let us neither correct nor rebuke that one. Rather, let us bemoan the fault ourselves and induce that person to a similar concern, without asking him to submit to our correction.” (excerpt from SERMON ON THE MOUNT 2.19.64)
Merciful healing and removal of sin
Jesus states a heavenly principle we can stake our lives on: what you give to others (and how you treat others) will return to you in like manner. The Lord knows our faults, weaknesses, and sins and he sees everything, even the imperfections and hidden sins of the heart which we cannot recognize in ourselves. Like a gentle father and a skillful doctor he patiently draws us to his seat of mercy and removes the cancer of sin which inhabits our hearts.
Do you trust in God’s mercy and grace? And do you submit to his truth about what is right and wrong, good and evil, helpful and harmful for your welfare and the welfare of your neighbor as well? Ask the Lord to purify your heart with his loving-kindness and mercy that you may have ample room for charity and forbearance towards your neighbor.
“O Father, give us the humility which realizes its ignorance, admits its mistakes, recognizes its need, welcomes advice, accepts rebuke. Help us always to praise rather than to criticize, to sympathize rather than to discourage, to build rather than to destroy, and to think of people at their best rather than at their worst. This we ask for thy name’s sake. (Prayer of William Barclay, 20th century)