Scripture Readings: Book of Sirach 27:4-7; First Corinthians 15:54-58; Gospel According to Luke: 6:39-45
This Sunday’s Gospel is addressed to Jesus’ followers, whom he considers to be eventual leaders and teachers in his Church. The notion of persevering in learning “the Law of the Lord,” is stressed in the Gospel today, as well as responsibility for handing on the faith and the truths we hold dear, to those who are younger, or perhaps simply strangers to the message of Jesus Christ.
One of the images used in the Gospel today is that of a tree, which needs time to produce good fruit. We all have a lifetime, however long or short, to be like trees planted near running waters, that hopefully grow over time, learn from mistakes, strengthened by pruning and setbacks. Amidst it all, we are encouraged to never give up, but persevering and responsible in our call, whatever it may be.
Perseverance and responsibility are hallmarks of any follower of Jesus Christ. Coupled with perseverance and responsibility are compassion and love. With these virtues, we can more easily walk in the ways of the Lord and encourage others along the same path as well.
In order to make his points, Jesus drew on the realities of his time. For example, eye disease was widespread in ancient Israel, before the advancements in medicine that we enjoy today. In the time of Jesus, people with eye disease where often shunned and tended to band together for assisting one another and protecting themselves. As such, it would be common that blind people would be leading other blind people.
Jesus used the familiar situation of “the blind leading the blind,” to explain that the best scenario is that someone who can see is best equipped to lead one who cannot see. Analogously, teachers and leaders need to be prepared, know what they are talking about, in order to be effective guides. We can only ask ourselves: am I properly formed in the faith and the Church? An excellent place to enhance our lives as Christians is to acquire and read the “Catechism of the Catholic Church.” It is a goldmine for growth in the knowledge of our faith and practice.
The Gospel challenges us to have a clear vision and to bear good fruit, for the deepening our adherence to Christ and to be sound “teachers,” even if in small and hidden ways. Jesus indicated that good people produce goodness, which flows from the heart. We speak from what is in our deepest self. In another place in the Gospels, Jesus says that where our treasure is, there our heart will be also (see Gospel According to Saint Matthew 6:21).
The words of Saint Paul to the Corinthians, the second reading for this Sunday, sum up well what we are being called to: “Be steadfast and persevering, fully engaged in the work of the Lord. You know that your toil is not in vain when it is done in the Lord.”
Hopefully, as the years progress, we can recognize within a progression, not in “greatness,” as that would be vainglory, but in bearing wholesome fruit, by growth in patience, compassion, forgiveness, commitment, honesty, letting go and letting God, sharing what we have with the less fortunate, giving of time and talents to worthwhile causes, generosity in assisting others, responding rather than reacting in difficult circumstances, choosing life, asking forgiveness, listening more and speaking less.
We can also say that good teaching comes more from actions than words. It has been said that at our passing, people may not remember any of the words we spoke to them, but they will remember how we made them fell: accepted or rejected. True and lasting teaching flows from a good and loving heart, acting in accordance with Christ’s teaching and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Abbot Christian Leisy, OSB