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8th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Ages 6-9): Specks and Logs

(Adults, you could begin by reading the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)

In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus tells us some parables about seeing. We wonder about these mysteries, about what more Jesus might mean.

The first parable is a question:

“Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit?

We know that a person who is blind cannot see. Sometimes people who are blind have a seeing-eye-dog to help them move about so that they do not fall into pits, so that they do not wander into dangerous situations. Would it be a good idea for that person to follow another person who cannot see? Probably not.

Is Jesus just giving advice to people who are blind? What more could Jesus be talking about?

Sometimes when people listen to an explanation, they will say, "Oh, I see what you mean." They are not talking about seeing with their eyes. What do they mean? We know they are talking about understanding.

Perhaps when he says, "blind person," Jesus means someone without understanding. If we do not understand something—if we do not know what to do—do we ask help from someone who also does not have understanding? Is that a good idea? Do we ask them what to do? Probably not. We might both choose something dangerous. We might both fall into a pit.

When we need to know what to do, when we do not understand, who do we listen to? We turn to the One with the most understanding. We pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus asks another parable question, again about being able to see:

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?

In this parable, our neighbour has a speck of something in their eye. We can see it. How can they live with that speck in their eye?

Image by MabelAmber on Pixabay

At the same time, though, we have a log in our own eye! That log has got to be blocking most of our vision. We are almost blind. If we look in the mirror, we cannot even see ourselves. We cannot even see that we have this ridiculous thing in the middle of our face. All we can see is a very small narrow view—enough to see that annoying speck in the other person's eye.

That speck really annoys us. We would like to take it out of their eye. But Jesus says,

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.

Good point. If we can hardly see because of the log, it would be ridiculous to try to pick out the speck. We would hurt the other person. We would be like someone who is blind, someone without understanding, trying to guide someone else. Dangerous.

If we cannot even see the log in our own eye, if we are hardly even aware of it, how can we remove it? We cannot do this on our own. We need someone's help.

We know, of course, that this is a parable. There is not really a log in our eye. Jesus is not really talking about specks and logs. What more could Jesus mean?

We can start with the speck. We can see the speck. What kind of thing annoys us about other people? What kinds of things would we like to correct about them? If a friend cheats while playing a game in the schoolyard, that is pretty annoying. If a classmate seems proud of knowing all the answers, that is pretty annoying. If a brother or sister takes more than their fair share of dessert, that is pretty annoying, too.

Photo by Yohei Shimomae on Unsplash

A speck is a tiny piece of a log. So we can ask ourselves, if it annoys us that a friend cheats, have there been times when we have cheated? Have there been times when we have not been a very good friend? Perhaps that is the log in our eye.

We can ask ourselves, if it annoys us that a classmate seems proud, are we sometimes proud, too? Do we forget that all of our talents are gifts from God? Do we use these gifts to help others or to show off? Perhaps that is the log in our eye.

We can ask ourselves, it is annoys us that a sister or brother takes more than their fair share, are there times when we have taken more than enough? Have we remembered those who are in need? Perhaps that is the log in our eye.

We may not be able to see our own log, but someone else's speck can be a gift to us. It can be a clue to what we need to confess. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

When we can name the log that is in our eye, we turn to the sacrament of confession. We speak the log out loud, and the Holy Spirit comes and removes it so that we can see clearly again.

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