MAN KNOW THYSELF
(Sunday March 3, 2019)
There is power in a spoken word! Be it good or bad words and whatever we say go a long a way to have either positive or negative effects on those the words are being addressed to. Words can build or destroy, mar or edify, inform, communicate truth or disseminate wrong information.
The first reading of today though short has a very big lesson for each and every one of us. It warned us to be careful with our words because the defects of a man appear in his talk. That the true test of a man is in his/her conversation. Here the first reading makes an illustration that the orchard where a tree grows is judged on the quality of its fruit, pointing to What Christ said also in the gospel that every tree can be told by its own fruits. Therefore, a man’s words betray what he feels. That we should not praise a man before he has spoken since this is the test of men (Eccl 27:5-8).
It is through one’s speech that we come to know the person’s worth because man’s speech or words say a lot about him or her.
“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.
We must discipline ourselves to speak in a way that conveys respect, gentleness and humility.
One of the clearest signs of a moral life is right speech. Perfecting our speech is one of the keystones of mature people. Before you speak, it is necessary to take a few moments to contemplate what you will say and how you will say it; while considering the impact they will have on the listener/s. Be kind to all and speak words that are beacons of inspiration, enthusiasm and encouragement to all.
Kind and sweet words are always music to the ears of the listeners.
When we speak we should speak with mindfulness, in a way to solidify peace and compassion in our characters. Not only do our words matter, but also the tone which we use has a huge impact. There are certain rules that should guide all our communications with others. Always speak the truth, avoid exaggerations, be consistent in what you are saying, don’t use double standards in addressing people, don’t use your words to manipulate others, and most importantly do not use words to insult or belittle anyone.
The first reading also offers a stern warning to some public speakers because many of such people today have used such position to destroy, insult, disrespect and humiliate people and put their reputation to the mud.
Jesus in the gospel of today presents us with three sets of parables. Each has something very special to communicate. Christ started by asking a question “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit?” we all know that to be blind is very unfortunate and devastating. But there is something worse than physical blindness. And this is what the Lord is telling us: “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?” Many people have perfect and keen eyesight, but that is only when they look for other people’s mistakes and wrongdoing. But when it comes to their own sins and mistakes, they are blind.
It is as if a big wooden beam blocks their eyes. That ‘wooden beam’ is no other thing than pride. It takes humility for us to acknowledge our own faults, work on ourselves to be better persons before we will be able to work on others, assist others, preach to others to turn from their evil ways. Here comes the saying “Action speaks louder than words” Indeed our exemplary lives communicate far more to people than our words because we live in a world where people follow you based on your actions not necessarily by your words.
The gospel of today points to the fact that we should evangelize, preach, moralize, instruct ourselves first before we carry our evangelization ministry, moral instruction and preaching exercise to others. It is only when we must have done that well, that we will know how best to do that on others. It is quite unfortunate that in our society today the reverse is always the case and that is why Christ is lamenting in the gospel of today on the need to put ourselves in order first before we can work on others so that we will see clearly to do that.
A proud person looks down on other people. He thinks he is the best person in the world. Everybody else is of less worth. In the spiritual life, he assumes the holier-than-thou attitude. He is convinced of his own holiness and the certainty of eternal salvation!
This admonition of Jesus does not mean that we have to attain perfect holiness first before we do something to help others. Otherwise, no one will take on the task of leading, guiding and teaching others. After all, nobody is perfect. All of us have our own sins, weaknesses, and failures. Rather, the Lord simply wants us to be reminded always of all these, so that we may avoid falling into the trap of blinding pride. It does not mean that we should not correct and spiritually assist one another.
The gospel is making a clarion call for us to cultivate the spirit of humility when we are correcting others knowing that all of us are in the same jungle struggling and striving to perfection and holiness of life.
Humility is the most basic and necessary foundation for genuine holiness. This virtue, no matter how unattractive to many people, enables us to see clearly who we truly are – our faults, sins and ugliness, and also our talents, innate goodness, and dignity. In other words, humility is always closely related to truth. It is through humility that we will know who we are and how best to assist others through humility.
Humility also means awareness and acceptance of our giftedness and capacities to do good and help others. This is what Saint Paul points out in the second reading of today. He reminds us in his Letter to the Corinthians that we are limited, sinful and corruptible. But this is not an excuse to do nothing. There is always certain hope for a better tomorrow when that which “is corruptible clothes itself with incorruptibility and that which is mortal clothes itself with immortality.” There is always the assurance of our victory.
Therefore, let us pray today for the virtue of humility so that we will be able to know who we truly are, work on ourselves and with humility and love assist others to be better persons.
Let Us Pray: Lord Jesus, give me the grace to humble myself to change from my evil ways so that I will be able to help others to change also. Amen.