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."
Our Scriptures for today 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 recognizing the gifts of the other. Sometimes differing view or talents can lead to conflicts and helpful direction is necessary. What Paul says of himself in First Timothy, that he was appointed to the service of God, applies to each of us. He admits that he realised his vocation only after years when he "acted ignorantly in unbelief." We too can act from ignorance or misguided zeal and so treat others arrogantly. But we have also, like Paul, received the grace of God in full measure. If grace could make such a change in Paul’s life, it can do the same for us.
It is good to admire and learn from the gifts of other people. One can become arrogant and too rigidly certain of one’s views–like those autocratics who once repressed heresy with violence, on the grounds that error has no rights.
Dogmatists 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.
Our limited insight into each other makes it dangerous to make judgements about others. It can be 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 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. Taking the plank out of our own eye means being more attentive to our own failings than to those of others. Often we do not see clearly enough to understand what is really going on in the other, and, therefore, we need to be slow to judge and to condemn. God, who sees clearly into every heart, is compassionate and merciful to all, even the unworthy. We are asked to try to be merciful and compassionate like that.