Br. David VryhofLuke 6:39-42

It’s difficult to see clearly when you have a log in your eye.  Apparently.

But it’s difficult to remove the log unless you can recognize what it is that is interfering with your ability to see clearly.  The log in our eye may be some hidden prejudice, perhaps rooted in fear, that prevents our seeing a person as he or she is.  Or perhaps it is some bias that is rooted in the way we were brought up and conditioned to respond to others.  Or it might be some disordered attachment that gets in the way: there is something or someone that we want and this thing that we think we need to be happy colors the way we view others.  Or perhaps it’s a label that we’ve attached to this person or group of people that is preventing us from seeing who they really are.  Or it may be that our strongly-held convictions or beliefs are getting in the way.

Whatever it is, it has to go.  Or else we will continue to be blind, unable to see, and we will live our lives in darkness.

How can we remove this log to see clearly?

The first step is awareness.  It takes careful introspection and much prayer to see into our own hearts and to honestly acknowledge what is there.

A second step is to train ourselves to withhold judgment.  We can do this by learning to look at each person we meet with reverence, recognizing that they are a mystery to us and always will be.  In our Rule of Life (ch. 27) we say,

In silence we honor the mystery present in the hearts of our brothers and sisters, strangers and enemies.  Only God knows them as they truly are and in silence we learn to let go of the curiosity, presumption, and condemnation which pretends to penetrate the mystery of their hearts.  True silence is an expression of love…

When we regard others as mysteries known only to God, we learn to withhold judgment, to be eager to listen and learn, and slow to speak or judge.  In humility we recognize that we are unable to penetrate the mystery of their hearts and to know them as they really are.  We leave all judgment to God.

This refusal to judge is a common theme in the tradition of the Desert Fathers and Mothers:

Abba Poeman said to Abba Joseph: Tell me how I can become a monk.  And he replied, “If you want to find rest here and hereafter, say in every occasion, Who am I? and do not judge anyone.

The third step is to take a fresh look, to see the person as God sees them, to look upon them with the infinite compassion of the Divine.

Here is a challenge for today.  Think of someone you know that you find difficult to love.  Try to peel away the labels you have affixed to this person and take a fresh look at them.  Study their supposed “defects” and try to understand why they trouble you.  Look for the hidden treasures in this person that your dislike of them might have prevented you from seeing.  Appreciate the mystery that they are, and entrust them to God.

  1.  The Rule of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist; (Cambridge MA: Cowley Publications, 1997), p. 54.
  2.  Desert Wisdom: Sayings from the Desert Fathers; (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Press, 2001), p. 45.

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1 Comment

  1. Ruth West on September 15, 2014 at 18:30

    I find it very hard to “peel away the labels” on those who are beheading my fellow men, crucifying little children and committing atrocities one after another. How can I overlook such evil and see the person of God’s creation underneath such wicked deeds? It’s so much easier with someone who sins, but with lesser sins. Yet I know that God condemns ALL sin. I need help with this now.

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