Reflection for Sunday – February 27, 2022
Readings: Sirach 27: 4-7; 1 Corinthians 15: 54-58; Luke 6: 39-45
Preacher: Lourdes Perez-Albuerne
In today’s gospel reading, Luke gives us a number of sapiential sayings, which are familiar, but that on Jesus’ lips point to what God expects from us. These sayings also remind us that God’s expectations do not contradict common sense or human reasoning, but instead, perfect them so that they can become the basis of our human relationships.
As we relate to others our aim should always be to help and allow others to have a better life—not to make their lives more difficult. We strive, with our words and actions, to make their lives more human, joyful and peaceful. We avoid giving them any additional burdens. As we try to achieve this aim, our interactions with them become different; they give the other person more confidence and happiness. But in order to do this, we need to relate to Jesus as disciples to their master. He, and only He, is our teacher and guide who teaches us how to be fully human. Being disciples keeps us humble, allowing us to recognize that He knows more than we do, even knowing us better than we know ourselves.
As disciples, we draw from the teachings and examples of our Master whenever we face significant situations, especially when attempting to support someone in difficult moments. Often it comes in handy to recall the familiar question: What would Jesus do? What words would He use that will free and encourage this person? As Jesus, we need to accept persons as they are and in the situation they find themselves. We need to be welcoming and non-judgmental. We must be that person who lovingly makes the other person feel welcomed and encouraged, no matter the seriousness of the mistakes, the sinfulness of the actions, or the difficulty of the situation. When we act this way, we are freeing the person from their isolation and give him/her strength to continue their daily lives. We can also suggest a new way of looking at their mistake or circumstances. We can recall that our God, who is all mercy, always forgives us and, therefore, we also have “permission” to forgive ourselves from our mistakes and fallings, and that the Spirit is there to help us.
We have to start to help our fellow human beings without any prejudice. We can’t judge in haste or by external appearances. Jesus reminds us that we see the straw in others’ eyes but not the beam in ours. Yet, this does not mean that we should not try to correct what we see wrong in the other person’s behavior, but we should always offer a “fraternal correction,” humbly as fellow sinners rather than morally superior accusers. If we act this way, our words and our attitude become an avenue to encourage others to become better human beings while preserving their dignity.
Forgiveness is something that we all need and can be a positive attitude in our society today. People who do not hold a grudge or resentment plant the seeds of hope around them. They create a more welcoming and open community. But be aware we are not ignoring what is wrong, or the places where we see injustices. But we deal with it in a constructive way that ends up turning evil into goodness.
But there is more: Jesus points out that the authentic human being is constructed from the inside out. “There is no healthy tree that gives bad fruit, or unhealthy tree that gives good fruit.” Wemust be guided in our life by conscience. What is important is our “heart”—that secret and deep place which gives us liberty— where we cannot be untrue to ourselves. According to Jesus, the heart is where we find the worst and the best of ourselves. If we allow the spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, to grow in our interior, it will transform us until it becomes our guide in all human relationships.
We can become instruments sharing that same peace, love and joy with those around us. This is why Jesus emphasizes prayer, as a way to develop a meaningful relationship with God and grow to be fully human. We need to encounter God as God really is in our deeper selves, so that it can transform our whole being. Let’s then strive to be attentive disciples of our Master so that our “heart” changes and leads us to be “good trees” that produce “good fruit.”