Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Saviour and of Christ Jesus our hope, To Timothy, my loyal child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.
I say to the Lord: 'You are my God.
My happiness lies in you alone.'
O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup;
it is you yourself who are my prize. (R./)
I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel,
who even at night directs my heart.
I keep the Lord ever in my sight:
since he is at my right hand, I shall stand firm. (R./)
You will show me the path of life,
the fullness of joy in your presence,
at your right hand happiness for ever. (R./)
Jesus told his disciples 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."
Today's readings are mainly about leadership but in some ways they apply to all human relationships. We are meant to interact with one another, not as superior to inferior but as equals in God's family, each one recognizing the gifts of each other. Sometimes differing view or talents can cause problems arise and helpful direction is necessary. What Paul says of himself in First Timothy, that he was appointed to the service of God, can apply to each of us. However, he admites that he came to realise this only after years when he "acted ignorantly in unbelief." At times we can act out of ignorance or misguided zeal and so treat others arrogantly. We too have received the grace of our Lord, in full measure. If grace could convert a persecutor like Saul of Tarsus into the missionary Paul, it can do the same for us.
We should respect, admire and learn from the gifts of one another. One can become arrogant and too sure that one's views are the only valid ones--like those autocratic people who once defended their repressive attitudes towards heresy on the grounds that error has no rights! They need to consider whether they are not like a blind man trying to guide another blind person. Both will fall into the pit, both teacher and student. Each of us needs the wisdom of others to balance our own special insights and strengths. We need the wisdom of othes to keep us united, at the service of all, in the spirit so well evoked in the recent words and gestures of pope Francis, as he calls for renewed fraternity and inclusiveness in our church.
Jesus suggests that our limited insight into each other makes it very difficult for us to many judgements about others. It can be very tempting to think that we see clearly whereas others are blind. Jesus seems to indicate that we are all blind to some degree and that it is a very often a case of the blind leading the blind rather than the enlightened leading the blind.
Changing the metaphor somewhat, Jesus gives us the comic image of someone trying to take a splinter out of someone else's eye while being oblivious to the plank in his or her own eye. In calling on us to take the plank out of our own eye first he suggests that we need to be more attentive to our own failings than to those of others. Because of our own faults and failings we do not see clearly enough to understand what is really going on in another person, and, therefore, we need to be very slow to judge and to condemn. God, who sees clearly into every heart, is compassionate and merciful to all, even the unworthy. Somehow we strive to be merciful and compassionate like that.