Sometimes a passage (like Matt 7:1-5 today) causes one to pause and consider. We have heard the call to prayer, and readings from the pulpit/lectern a thousand times. The preaching, with variations, has been, “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged”. Today, it became an instruction for active discipleship, “ first take out the log from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour’s eye.”How contrary it sounds in today’s static on the airwaves!
Everyone strives above the din to call a neighbour to be “accountable” for some perceived act of delinquency. In our smug self-righteousness, we want the other to take “responsibility”, when we ourselves are quick to disclaim responsibility for our own, attitudes and actions. When it comes to ourselves, it is always, “The serpent made me eat it”. Indeed it is part of that original sin. How we blame the government, establishments, even our DNA, for decisions and acts we commit of our own volitions.
We begin to wonder at the relevance of the call for us to be perfect as the Father is perfect. We continue on chosen trajectories like wanton kids, absorbed with curiosity about the boundaries of ethics, social behaviour and our sexual affirmations. Does one have to wear pencil line trousers or flares; skinny shorts or frayed denims; or follow some fixed genre of music, to be mod and in step with “things”? Is it fashionable to hold particular social or political positions? How conformist do we need to be to be considered non-conformist? It does seem to be an overwhelming preoccupation with things trivial, while quickly pointing to people who love the simple old fashioned things like respect, congeniality, and faithfulness to an ethical code.
I feel like an anachronism, committed, and to some, very Boring. Unfortunately, I too have meandered among loosely bound Christians. For instance, I considered it a cultural imperative to take my children for Baptism. Upon their reaching the age of reason the formalities of the sacraments of initiation too were duly completed. Christmas and Easter became great celebrations to honour consumerism, with little place for their religious significance. Thus, I missed the calls of the prophets and the psalmists, to teach my children about the faith and the law. By sending them to Catholic schools, I made those institutions “responsible” to teach and instruct – holding them “accountable”. Grudgingly, I now see the log in my own eye. I pray that discipleship will follow.