Year C: 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Gospel: Luke 6: 39-45
A whole series of images flow through this last section of the Sermon on the Plain as Jesus continues to instruct his disciples in the ways of the Kingdom.
It is a sad fact of life that we are often very quick to judge others - or to offer advice - forgetting that we may not always see situations as they really are... or that we may have problems on our own doorstep which should be dealt with first.
Jesus warns us to be on our guard about doing this but seems also to recognise that there are times when we do need to turn to others - or to be people to whom others can turn.
In a world full of “good advice” and people keen to step in and tell us how to live our lives, it is important that we step back and discern who to listen to - whose advice to act upon. The rule of thumb offered by Jesus is a useful one - do the words come from the heart - and what kind of heart is it?
Those who speak from goodness may not always have the easiest answers - more often than not they will challenge as much as console. We may be tempted to turn to people who will tell us what we want to hear - which may be in their interest and not in ours.
Listening to people on the radio or television can also test this skill... We may find their words convincing - but should also stand back and consider in whose interest are they speaking. Are they massaging egos - or administering an anaesthetic which dulls our senses to the truth? Are they speaking of uncomfortable truths and challenging things that undermine or oppress human dignity? Who is behind what they are saying?
Discriminating between good and evil is an important part of being a mature Christian. It involves reflection and may put us at odds with prevailing “wisdom”. In extreme circumstances, it may cost dearly - those who dare to question evil regimes know the consequence may be prison or even death.
Our listening needs to involve more than our ears - our seeing more than our eyes. We need also to engage our brains and reason and our hearts and love. In that way, we will be able to discern what will produce sound fruit - and what will all too quickly prove rotten.
What does it mean for me?
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