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The good news for the day June 20

Monday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time (371)

Jesus says to his students: “Don’t judge—so that you won’t get judged—because the standard you use will get used on you, and whatever measure you use to judge will be the one used on you. How is it you notice a splinter in the eye of someone who is your brother, but miss the 2×4 plank that is blinding your own vision? Or how can you tell your brother, ‘Here, let me get that splinter out of your eye?’ when—think about it—you have that 2×4 in your own. You’re play-acting! Get rid of the 2×4, and you can see clearly enough to get that splinter out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7)

“Hypocrite!” The word hypocrite (“You’re play-acting”) has become a word for saying one thing, but doing something else. Religious leaders abuse children, politicians criticize and control sex lives while they secretly do bad things, friends act nice to your face, but behind your back fault you to others. These words of Jesus, however, are addressed not to “them,” but to you and to me—and the ordinary, daily hypocrisy we practice.

The word originally just meant an “actor,” a stage-player who, with mask on, performs with words of someone else. The idea is that to be a hypocrite, you put a mask on—a “façade” which is not you. For some reason—to impress, to evade responsibility, to avoid work, to be “superior,” to avoid being exposed and ashamed…you slither away from telling truth. The causes of hypocrisy form an long list—as do the skillful ways you and I practice it—the reasonable tone of voice, the look-‘em-in-the-eye, and the delicate choice of words. We can be superb actors, and we often are.

Your challenge—the Good News—is that you and I CAN see selves as we see other people; you find and confront your standards, your principles, and your judgments of others—and then direct them inward. You see a fault in someone? Ask, “Do I do that?” You feel an instinctive rejection of someone? Ask, “Why? Do I act that way?” The Good News is always about finding your way back to the “realm of what’s right.”

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