Lectio Divina: Matthew 7:1-5
1) Opening prayer
guide and protector of Your people,
grant us an unfailing respect for Your name,
and keep us always in Your love.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 7:1-5
Jesus said to his disciples: "Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove that splinter from your eye,' while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother's eye."
• In today’s Gospel we continue to meditate on the Sermon on the Mount, found in chapters 5 to 7 of the Gospel of Matthew. During the 10th and 11th week we have seen chapters 5 and 6. Beginning today, we will see chapter 7. These three chapters, 5, 6, and 7, offer an idea of how the catechesis was done in the communities of the converted Jews in the second half of the first century in Galilee and in Syria. Matthew unites and organizes the words of Jesus to teach how the new way of living the law of God should be.
• After having explained how to re-establish justice (Mt 5:17 to 6:18) and how to restore the order of creation (Mt 6:19-34), Jesus teaches how the life in community should be (Mt 7:1-12). At the end He presents some recommendations and final advice (Mt 7:13-27). Then follows an outline of the entire Sermon on the Mount:
Matthew 5:1-12: The Beatitudes: solemn openness of the New Law.
Matthew 5:13-16: The new presence in the world: Salt of the earth and light of the world.
Matthew 5:17-19: The new practice of justice: relationship with the ancient law. Matthew 5:20-48: The new practice of justice: observing the new law.
Matthew 6:1-4: The new practice of the works of piety: alms giving.
Matthew 6:5-15: The new practice of the works of piety: prayer.
Matthew 6:16-18: The new practice of the works of piety: fasting.
Matthew 6:19-21: The new relationship to material goods: do not store up.
Matthew 6:22-23: The new relationship to material goods: a correct vision.
Matthew 6:24: The new relationship to material goods: God or money.
Matthew 6:25-34: The new relationship to material goods: trust in Providence
Matthew 7:1-5: The new community life together: do not judge.
Matthew 7:6: The new community life together: do not despise the community.
Matthew 7:7-11: The new community life: trust in God produces sharing.
Matthew 7:12: The new community life together: the Golden Rule.
Matthew 7:13-14: Final recommendations to choose the sure way.
Matthew 7:15-20: Final recommendations, the prophet is known by his fruits.
Matthew 7:21-23: Final recommendations to not only speak but also practice.
Matthew 7:24-27: Final recommendations to construct the house on rock.
The community-lived experience of the Gospel (Mt 7:1-12) is the touchstone. It is where the seriousness of the commitment is defined. The new proposal of life in community embraces many aspects: do not observe the splinter in your brother’s eye (Mt 7:1-5), do not throw your pearls in front of pigs (Mt 7:6), do not be afraid to ask God for things (Mt 7:7-11). This advice reaches the summit in the Golden Rule: Always treat others as you would like them to treat you (Mt 7:12). The Gospel of today presents the first part: Matthew 7:1-5.
• Matthew 7:1-2: Do not judge and you will not be judged. The first condition for a good life together in community is not to judge brother or sister. That is, to eliminate the preconceptions which prevent a transparent community life. What does this mean concretely? John’s Gospel gives an example of how Jesus lived in community with the disciples. Jesus says: “I shall no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know the master’s business; I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have learned from My Father” (Jn 15:15). Jesus is an open book for His companions. This transparency comes from His total trust in the brothers and sisters and has its origin in His intimacy with the Father who gives Him the force of opening himself up totally to others. Anyone who lives in this way with his brothers and sisters accepts others as they are, without any preconceptions, without previously imposing any conditions, without judging. Mutual acceptance without any pretension and with total transparency! This is the ideal of the new community life, which has come from the Good News which Jesus has brought to us: God is our Father, and therefore, we are all brothers and sisters. It is a difficult ideal, but as beautiful and attractive as the other one: “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.
• Matthew 7:3-5: You observe the splinter in your brother’s eye and never notice the great log in your own. Immediately Jesus gives an example: Why do you observe the splinter in your brother’s eye, and never notice the great log in your own? And how dare you say to your brother, “Let me take that splinter out of your eye, when look, there is a great log in your own? Hypocrite! Take the log out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye”. When hearing this phrase we usually think of the Pharisees who despised the common people, considering them ignorant and they considered themselves better than others (cf. Jn 7:49; 9:34). In reality, this statement of Jesus serves for all of us. For example, it is often the case that we criticize the very thing in others that we do ourselves. We observe the splinter in the eye of our brothers and we do not see the big log in our own eyes. These logs can cause many people today to have difficulty in believing in the Good News of Jesus.
4) Personal questions
• Think about the things I criticize other for. Does it reveal the same behavior, in some way, in me?
• Does this show that we all have more in common than in differences, and that it is only the log in the eye that is the problem in understanding this?
• Splinters and logs share a similar nature: both are wood. What faults do I share with others in my community or family which I seem to be blind to in myself?
5) Concluding Prayer
Your kindnesses to me are countless, Yahweh;
true to Your judgments,
give me life. (Ps 119:156)