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This Sunday's Programme

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8th Sunday C

Sunday 27th February 2022

The Gospel Paraphrased

There are many fine translations of the Gospels readily available. This paraphrase is not meant to replace them. Rather the intention here is to offer a more contemporary rendering so that you can imaginatively translate the Gospel in your own situation.

This Sunday's Gospel Paraphrased

Luke 6: 39-45

Jesus told them another parable. The blind cannot the blind. Won’t they all fall into the pit? A disciple is not superior to the teacher.

Why do you notice the speck in your brother’s eye and fail to notice the plank that is in your own? How can you say to you brother, ‘Look brother, let me remove that speck from your eye,’ and not see the plank in your own? Hypocrite! Remove the plank from your own eye and then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck.

A healthy tree does not produce bad fruit, while an unhealthy tree does not produce good fruit. The thorn bush does not produce grapes and you don’t pick figs from the thorn bush. The good person brings goodness out of their heart, while a bad person produces badness. What a person says will come from what fills their heart.

Psalm

The Psalms are the ancient prayers of the Jewish people, here paraphrased into contemporary language.

This Sunday's Psalm

Ps 91: 2-3,13-16

It is good to acclaim God,
to make melodies to your name, Almighty One.
In the morning to speak of your kindness,
during the night to remember your faithfulness.

The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree,
grow majestic like a Lebanon cedar.

Those planted in the house of God shall bud forth,
those in the court of God will flourish.
Even in old age they will be fruitful,
still strong, still healthy,
proclaiming the justice of God,
the faithful one who does no wrong.

Prayers

Words cannot contain our desire for God but they help direct our minds and hearts towards God's love and express our needs.

This Sunday's Prayer

Loving God, you know how easily we fall into the way of judgment. When I find myself doing so, may your Hold Spirit guide my mind and heart to discern whether what I am criticising is part of my own behaviour. May I be given the wisdom to change so that I may truly serve others.

The Commentaries Summarised

As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.

This Sunday's Commentary

This Sunday’s Gospel continues with Luke’s Sermon on the Plain and appears to be an eclectic group of, again, challenging sayings but there is a core word that is the key to this collection. It is ‘hypocrite’. Coming from the Greek, it implies that a person is an actor, wearing a mask that presents one face to the world, while underneath there is a different reality. Such a person has limited sight. Would one seek to have such a masked person lead them? Of course not. Would one allow such a person to remove a speck from one’s eye? Of course not.

Contrasted with this image of duplicity, Jesus offers three images of integrity: fruit, soundness of heart, words coming from within. Trees produce according to their nature. And so should we. What is in our hearts is what we should live by. And from the depth of our hearts our words will flow.

Exposition

Christian conversion is promoted by conversation. This section is a response to and a development on the knowledge gained from the commentary section.

This Sunday's Exposition

It has become almost a truism of modern psychology that the failings we fixate on in other people, are failings we have not yet resolved within ourselves. We don’t want to face our own issues – they may be too painful or require too much work- so we attack others in order to alleviate our own discomfort and make ourselves feel superior, when we feel diminished.

But imagine if our response to being annoyed or upset by another’s behaviour was to stop and reflect upon ourselves:

‘What has made me angry?

Why?

How might this behaviour be present in my own life?

What is the root cause of this anger?

How do I deal with this failing myself?’

These are difficult and challenging questions and we need some degree of focus and energy in order to continue to face them. And that is what we can channel our anger and irritation. As we are put out by another, we can ask ourselves, ‘How is this behaviour in me?’ It is a long and constant process. As we do this, over time, we may come to recognise the roots of our behaviour and we may even discover that what we initially saw as the problem in the other, then in ourselves, is actually a façade hiding deeper issues we need to face. Only then might we come to the wisdom that can truly help others. It is a long and constant process.

Reflection

Reflection is an essential element of our growth in Christ. As we reflect over what we have learnt and ponder it in our hearts, we come to recognise the presence of God in our lives.

This Sunday's Reflection

If you are of certain age, you may recall the British slapstick film, The Plank, written, produced and acted by that master of comedy, Eric Sykes. It shows the mayhem that ensues when two tradesmen buy and transport a plank across a town. If you have a spare half hour you can watch it here (click red text). Most of the time of the time they are oblivious to the mayhem they are causing.

Which is just the point Jesus is making in this Sunday’s Gospel. This is one of the rare instances where Jesus is clearly being funny. We have heard the story so often, we fail to see the hilariousness of the image. So, stop and image just what it would be like to walk around with a plank in the eye. Not only would you be blind, you would also be clumsy, inflicting injury on yourself and others. Conducting a delicate operation like removing a speck from another’s eye would be completely beyond your ability.

This reading follows straight on from last Sunday’s, where Jesus gave the injunction: ‘Do not judge’. Now he gives the very lively illustration of what happens when we do. Quite simply, instead of making ourselves superior, we make fools of ourselves. A constant, critical attitude does not make us sharper or more intelligent, rather it makes us stupid. The happiest people I know are those who delight in the goodness that they see around them. They are also the people who can give the wisest advice to those in need.

Visual Meditation

Looking at art works or movies is a great way to open ourselves to the meaning of the Gospels. Seeing can bypass our preconceived notions, giving us new vistas of enlightenment. With painting or sculpture one needs to sit quietly and absorb the dynamics of the piece. The drama of movies more easily engages us and offers a way to conversation about the Gospel with other members of your family.

This Sunday's Visual Meditation

Art Works

Movies

The Plank

Mulling Meditation

The purpose of mulling meditations is to offer a few ideas that one can mull about while doing other occupations. There are many things we do in our day that do not require our full attention - some things which are largely done on automatic pilot - like driving a car or peeling the potatoes. While we give these our attention, part of our mind is still at work mulling on other things and unless it is given something positive to feed on, we easily feed on negative thoughts. Personally I find mulling time the most likely time for God to get through to me. Because I am not so conscious of myself, God gets through the cracks and opens my heart to look at life differently.
Two practical times for mulling can be when exercising and when driving. Some small preparations for integrating such prayer into these exercises can be helpful.

Exercising
As you do your preparatory stretches, pray the line of the Psalm "I praise you God for I am wonderfully made!"
Similarly when doing your concluding stretches use the prayer of St Clare "Praised be you, my God, for creating me!"

Driving
Have some music that you find helps you turn you mind and heart to God and play that for the first 10 minutes or so of your trip.

This Sunday's Mulling Meditation

As you go through this week, notice what words you use in different situations. Are your words positive or negative? What images do you use? What do your words teach you about your heart.

Mirror Meditation

In the Letter of James, we are told that the Scriptures are like a mirror in which we can see ourselves. In this type of meditation we take a piece of Scripture, hold it before us and consider what echoes within our heart. These echoes help us to see who we are before God and how we are loved. What usually echoes in us are situations that we are dealing with in our lives. When something strikes us, we do not actively try to solve the situation or work it through. Rather we sit holding it in God's love. The point of such a meditation is to make space within the situation for God's love to be. In 'sitting with' such a situation, painful or sad, we come to recognise the love of God that is at work on our lives. The suggestions for Mirror reflections can also be used for Exercise reflections but wouldn't be advised for Driving Prayer as often some degree of emotion or distraction might rise in such prayer.

This Sunday's Mirror Meditation

Rest in the Love of your God.

When you come to a sense of quiet, ponder on your own sense of integrity. What are the situations in which you feel you put on a mask? That you say or do one thing, but feel like doing something else. Sometimes this can be for good, sometimes for bad. What are the causes on this behaviour?

Take one of two of theses situations and talk them through with God. Can you find a ways of acting and speaking that give you a greater sense of integrity?

Rest in the Love of your God.