September 15, 2016
Isn't it awesome when you hear a Gospel reading and homily and they speak right to your heart?!
It is, unless the Gospel and homily are from last Friday.
Jesus told his disciples a parable:
“Can a blind person guide a blind person?
Will not both fall into a pit?
No disciple is superior to the teacher;
but when fully trained,
every disciple will be like his teacher.
Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye,
but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?
How can you say to your brother,
‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’
when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye?
You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first;
then you will see clearly
to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.”
As soon as I finished my "Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ," I was already bracing myself; every word from this homily was a not-so-subtly worded letter from God to me, all pointing toward the same thesis: "This is you, specifically in your relationship with your wife, and you need to cut this out. You are a blind guide doing blind guide things. Don't do that. Let me lead."
At the Catholic Center at NYU for daily Mass last Friday (sitting right next to the aforementioned, trying not to look nervous), Fr. Sebastian hammered home the most important thing I was getting wrong. Contrary to what I had maybe previously thought, the difference between charitable correction and sinful nitpicking isn't how much I did it. Or maybe, I thought, if I really tried hard to want her eternal salvation while I was selfishly commenting on the things she does that annoy me, I would somehow be more "iron sharpening iron" and less "clanging cymbal." Instead, Fr. Sebastian cut to the core of what I was getting wrong: the example to which I was comparing her.
Correction can only be loving if Jesus, and not ourselves, is the model to whom we look for guidance.
I had spent day after day thinking "if only she did X the way I did it, then things would go better." And, like all who are stuck in this pattern of thinking, it took a bit of a rude awakening to realize that I had become the shining model to which I compared the behavior of those around me. Hearing Fr. Sebastian's words, it quickly became clear that the last thing I wanted was to be constantly surrounded by people who acted just like me. That's not a good recipe for anyone.
...I'll be spending this weekend's Frassati retreat with a mirror and a beam-remover.
Praised be Jesus Christ, the one true way, the narrow gate that sets us free.