Daily Readings for Mass.
(Liturgical Calendar for Ireland, 2019)

03 March: 8th Sunday (C)

1st Reading: Sirach 27:4-7

Three images about ways of speaking

When a sieve is shaken, the refuse appears;
so do a person's faults when he speaks.

The kiln tests the potter's vessels;
so the test of a person is in his conversation.

As its fruit discloses the cultivation of a tree,
so does our speech discloses the cultivation of our mind.

Do not praise anyone before he speaks,
for this is the way people are tested.

Responsorial:
Psalm 91:2-3, 13-16

Response: Lord, it is good to give thanks to you

It is good to give thanks to the Lord
  to make music to your name, O Most High,
  to proclaim your love in the morning
  and your truth in the watches of the night. (R./)

The just will flourish like the palm-tree
  and grow like a Lebanon cedar. (R./)

Planted in the house of the Lord
  they will flourish in the courts of our God,
  still bearing fruit when they are old,
  still full of sap, still green,
  to proclaim that the Lord is just.
  In him, my rock, there is no wrong. (R./)

2nd Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:54-58

If we persevere in God's work, we need not fear death

When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." "O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.

Gospel: Luke 6:39-45

We cannot offer guidance unless we see the way clearly ourselves

Jesus told them a parable: "Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher. 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, 'Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log 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.

"No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks."

BIBLE

Growing in the Faith

Springtime is a time for growing in the faith, and it is good to check whether Jesus' teaching is taking root in our hearts. Today's readings focus on being steadfast in faith. St Paul encourages us to "be steadfast, immovable .. knowing that our labour is not in vain." We need to be like this, if we are in any way to lead others towards Jesus, and help them to grow spiritually, just as we are hoping to grow ourselves. But however firm we may be in the faith, we are warned against letting a judgmental attitude to root in us. Jesus put this warning in a dramatic symbol: Don't try to remove the speck of dust from another's eye, until you have removed the log from your own eye! We must not self-righteously correct others without honestly evaluating ourselves.

Unfortunately, this problem has not gone away. Even quite recently our church has endured polarisation and divisiveness within our own faith community. Even among the hierarchy, some are bitterly opposed to pope Francis' attempts to reform some outdated structures and attitudes, so that our church can be more welcoming to outsiders who seek spiritul nourishment. Even some cardinals seem more concerned with fault-finding than with building up the body of Christ. We need to pray for a renewal of true collegiality and family spirit at all levels of the church

The Springtime deepening of faith and dedication should lead to a spiritual maturity, in which everyone will be mutually suportive. This warning against hasty judgment and arrogance is sandwiched between Christ's teaching about universal love (Lk 6:27-36) and his call to build our life on the solid foundation of his word (Lk 6:46-49.) He alls us to be "merciful, as your Father is merciful," and "like the Most High who is kind even to the ungrateful" (Lk 6:35-36.)

Our life in the Spirit results from his gift and our cooperation. Our part is to remove obstacles to growth, and one of our positive goals is to develope a kindly attitude to our fellow Christians. It is for us to help them and leave it to God to judge them.


For the right motive

Jesus warns us not to judge others. He lays down the premise that since we all have faults, we have no right to judge the faults of others. What is striking about a meeting of recovering alcoholics is this shared admission of weakness. Each is encouraged to take the first step towards reform: admitting that he or she has a difficulty that he needs help to control. Each is encouraged by the others to stay sober. Among the general public our specific weakness is less obvious than the addiction that grips an alcoholic. But we find it even harder to admit our weakness, even to ourselves. Rather we prefer to give the impression that we are just fine, and in no need of the compassion of others.

On the other hand, some are responsible for guiding and encouraging others. Parents have the responsibility of showing their children, by example of course, but also in words, how to lead a decent life. The Gospel reminds us that the blind cannot lead the blind, that we need to remove the log out of our own eye in order to be able to help (though not to judge) others. One cannot undertake to guide others until one has a good sense of values: one must not only be well-informed, but also be committed to correcting one's deficiencies. As every teacher knows, you really begin to learn something when you try to teach it to others. Every parent knows that just because he or she becomes aware of the need to teach the children how to live he or she is encouraged to behave in a more Christian way.

Jesus warns against self-righteousness. Just keeping the letter of the law is not enough, for God searches the heart. We need to do the right thing from the right intention. He want us to practice self-criticism and be aware of our motives. We need to turn to God within our hearts, to purify our inmost intentions. This is what king David meant when he prayed, "Lord, create in me a pure heart; put a steadfast spirit within me."


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