Gospel Reflections

8th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Luke 6:39-45

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Marie Prefontaine

Published: March 03, 2019


This Lucan passage is not so much a parable as a series of images, exaggerated images to make a point.

• First, we see a snapshot of one blind person trying to guide another blind person (Lk 39b).

• Then we see a person who seems not to notice the huge log sticking out of his eye as he probes for the speck in his neighbor’s eye (Lk 41-42).

• Last, we see a pair of trees, one good and one bad—and a bramble bush (Lk 43-44).

The point of this first image speaks of our daily choices as disciples of Jesus lest we stumble into a pit alongside our blind guide.  A corollary is found in Jesus’ action of the washing of the feet that emphasizes our discipleship in doing what he taught “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (Jn 13:15-17)

The pointed hyperbole of the second image grows naturally out of what Jesus said in verse 37 about not judging or condemning. The problem with judging is that the person who sets him/herself up as a judge of another person’s imperfections is also imperfect. Like the blind leading the blind, the imperfect judging the imperfect leaves something to be desired.  Jesus teaches, “By their fruits you will know them” (Mt 7:20), indicating that there is such a thing as proper discernment.

The third image of a tree’s produce as a natural outgrowth of its character illustrates a parallel principle in our spiritual lives.  Our actions are an outward expression of our inward being.

There is a Buddha parable that mirrors this image shared in Jesus’ parable.  One day as the Buddha was sitting under a tree, a trim soldier walked by, looked at the Buddha, noticed his fat, and said: “You look like a pig!”  The Buddha looked up calmly at the soldier and said: “And you look like God!”  Taken aback by the comment, the soldier asked the Buddha: “Why do you say that I look like God?”  The Buddha replied: “Well, we don’t really see what’s outside of ourselves, we see what’s inside of us and project it out.  I sit under this tree all day and I think about God, so that when I look out that’s what I see.  And you, you must be thinking about other things!” (Rolheiser, Sacred Fire p. 215)

Jesus used parables to illustrate lessons to be applied to our lives, if we have eyes to see and eyes to hear (Jn 12:40; Lk 10:25).  We ought to be very careful when we blame others; for we need allowance ourselves. If we are of a giving and a forgiving spirit, we shall ourselves reap the benefit. And the tree is known by its fruits.  What do you think about when you sit under the tree of your life of discipleship?

May the word of Christ be so grafted in our hearts, that we may be fruitful in every good word and work for what the mouth speaks and what our actions show, generally agrees with what is most in our heart.

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