A reading from the gospel according to Luke 6:39-45:
39 Jesus told his disciples a parable, “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit?
40 No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher.
41 Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?
42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’ when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.
43 “A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit.
44 For every tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not pick figs from thornbushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles.
45 A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”
Reflection: The “Me First” attitude
Many people condemn the “me first” attitude as being self-centered, self-serving, or egocentric. In the gospel passage above however, Jesus is telling us to develop a “me first” attitude in the context of personal holiness and not self-aggrandizement. He is urging us to take care of our spiritual growth first before others because we cannot give what we do not have.
To illustrate the importance of personal holiness, Jesus used four metaphors:
1. Blind guides. It is very clear that a blind person cannot lead another blind man or both can fall into the precipice. Be a holy person first then you can guide others to be holy too.
2. A good teacher can make good disciples. A good teacher knows how to train his disciples so that the latter can be equal to the former but not surpass his master.
3. A good tree bears good fruit. This is self-explanatory but we often forget it. Parents who tell their children to behave will be in vain when they themselves show misbehavior.
4. From the heart the mouth speaks. What is on the inside will determine what will come out. No matter how a person wants to pretend or to deceive others, sooner or later, the truth will come out through his words or actions. If one harbors grudges and jealousy, it will show in his words and actions. Likewise, if love rules his heart, it will come out in the form of loving words and kind actions.
No one is really without fault. That is why, Jesus is teaching us to forget others’ fault in the meantime so that we can focus on correcting our own. When we try to correct others without first correcting ourselves, we end up sounding as hypocrites and nobody will believe us. The message is to look at others not with critical eyes but with a merciful and forgiving heart.