The Parable of the Mote and the Beam
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Trained in Rome, Fetti evolved a style of animated, feathery brushstrokes that allow the eye to penetrate layers of the paint surface.
In 1614 Fetti moved to Mantua to work for Ferdinando Gonzaga. This painting is one of thirteen illustrations of Gospel Parables painted in about 1619 for Gonzaga's studiolo (a small private study, often filled with works of art as well as books).
It represents an admonition by Jesus:
“And why do you behold the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but do not consider the beam that is in your own eye?”
The original Greek word translated as ‘mote’ meant a stalk or twig rather than a tiny speck, as in modern usage.
Luke 6: 39-45
39“Jesus told a parable to his disciples: ‘Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? 40A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher. 41Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? 42Or 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’. 43‘No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; 44for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks’”.
This text reads like a disconnected series of separate sayings of Jesus. Two things are possible:
· It may be that Luke is collecting here sayings of Jesus which were spoken at different occasions, and so giving us a kind of compendium of rules for life and living; Or
· This may be an instance of the Jewish method of preaching, called Charaz, which means “stringing beads”. The preacher must never linger more than a few moments on any topic, but to maintain interest, must move quickly from one topic to another which often then gives us the impression of being disconnected.
Whatever the case, these Parables should not be interpreted as general messages to an undefined audience. Luke has given them a specific meaning regarding fellowship, by the context of the callings of his Disciples to join “the poor of God” by sharing their possessions, even counting on the opposition of enemies.
Rules for Life and Living
The Blind leading the blind
Luke uses the saying about ‘the blind leading the blind’ in a different context than Matthew does. There, it is a structure against the Pharisees, here it is a warning against false teachers in the Christian Community. The true Christian teacher will always remain a disciple of the Master, never able to change let alone surpassing his instruction.
Jesus warns that no teacher can lead his scholar beyond the stage which He himself has reached. This is a double warning to us:
· In our learning we must seek only the best teacher for only He can lead us farthest on; and
· In our teaching, we must remember that we cannot teach what we do not know.
The Disciples were blind until they had their eyes opened by Jesus’s teaching. Once they have been fully trained in what Jesus means by sharing their possessions, then they will be able to instruct others.
The plank in your eye
The image of the splinter and the beam drives home the point about not judging others. Here is an example of the humour of Jesus.
It must have been with a smile that Jesus drew the picture of a man with a plank in his own eye trying to extract a speck of dust from someone else’s eye.
Jesus teaches us that we have no right to criticize, unless we ourselves are free of faults. That simply means that we have no right to criticize at all, because no one is without fault. The Lord is asking us to look inward, to examine our hearts and fill them with the ‘good treasure’ that God desires.
Jesus uses two different fruit tree images to make the point about the source of a person’s actions:
· In Verse 43, the fruit tells us whether or not the tree is healthy;
· In Verse 44, the fruit verifies the variety of tree.
Those who call upon Jesus as Lord must demonstrate the reality and the quality of the relationship. They will be able to do this if they hear his words and put them into action.
Effective compliance with the teaching in previous Verses can come only from a heart that has been converted to the gracious God proclaimed in Jesus’s ministry. We are urged to make wholesome speech a habit. After all, much about who we are is brought to light through what we say.
No one can speak of God with his/her mouth unless God’s Spirit be in his/her heart.
Nothing shows the state of a person’s heart as well as the words that they speak when they are not carefully considering their words, when they are talking freely and saying the first thing that comes into their head.
Why do purity of heart and speech matter so much? Because, as Jesus declares elsewhere: “By your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned”.
They matter because they help to decide our final judgment. Paul reminds us that God will destroy death forever, and if we are to share in this victory and live forever with the Lord, then we must take all steps necessary to give our hearts and lips to what is good.
“Gracious Lord, grant us the courage, the wisdom, and the willingness to seek truth in ourselves, in our lives, in our world,
lest we fall into pits that we should have seen coming.
Gracious God, in Your wisdom, You created us, in love.
By your providence, You rule us, in love.
Penetrate our inmost being with the holy light of your Son.
Penetrate our hearts with the overwhelming love for your love.
May the Light that is Jesus Christ our Lord,
enlighten our hearts
that we may see clearly the way we should tread.
May the prayers of Your holy Angels, Martyrs, Saints
and our Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary,
be our guiding inspiration.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen”.
Ø God sees the heart and always will. We may put on a great show of words and actions, but it is what is at the root of these that is so visible to God. Focusing on the faults of others, no matter how true, take the focus off our own.
Ø ‘Lord, when You tell me to hold off criticism until I have cleared my own slate, You are telling me not to criticise at all, because I am never above criticism myself’.
Ø I bring myself before Jesus and allow myself some time to be regarded by his loving look. I ask him to remove any speck or plank that may be in my eye. I pray for the clarity of vision that He had.
Ø My perspective may not be the best one; my view of myself and of the world may need correction. I pray for humility and for a deeper capacity to perceive God’s presence and action around me.
Ø It can be a common weakness to judge my neighbour while not recognising my
own faults and need of God’s mercy. “Lord, make me gaze at others as kindly as You
Ø God sees each of us from the inside. He sees us with a generous and
compassionate gaze and does not despise or condemn us for our shortcomings
and failings. I pray for humility and for a deeper capacity to perceive God’s
presence and action around me.
Ø Today’s Gospel invites us to a simple examination of our life under a couple of
headings which are proposed in colourful style. How do I see Christ as my Teacher?
How do I check how operative He is in my life as ‘my Teacher’?
Ø We are all given to noting the defects of others more readily than our own. How
do we guard against this tendency?
 Luke 6: 20-38 Lk 5: 11: “When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him”. Luke 18: 28: “Then Peter said, ‘Look, we have left our homes and followed you’”. Acts 2: 44-45: “All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need”. Acts 4: 32: “Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common”.  Luke 6: 37: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven”.  Luke 8: 15: “But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance”. Luke 8: 21: “But he said to them, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it’”.  Lk 6:20-38  Matthew 12: 36-37: “I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned”. 1 Corinthians 15: 54-58: “When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labour is not in vain”.