by Orlando Hernandez
In the Gospel (Lk 6: 27-38) for Thursday of the 23rd week in Ordinary Time our Lord gives us a splendid, demanding portrait of who He is, and of how we could become more like Him:
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you….. Do to others as you would have them do to you….. Stop judging and you will not be judged….. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.”
What a wonderful world this would be if we just stop looking at it with eyes of negativity and hopelessness! In the reading (Lk 6:39-42) for the next day, Friday of the 23rd week in Ordinary Time, this Gospel of Luke continues:
“Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?…. You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.”
I think on this Gospel and realize that a splinter in the eye can actually feel like a huge, heavy piece of wood (a beam!). It is indeed blinding and terribly distressing. The irritation paralyzes us and makes us stop whatever we are doing. For an instant, we feel helpless. I remember that more than once as a small child, walking with my father on a dusty, windy street, a painful object would find its way into my eye. Through my blinding tears I would try to reach out to my father, Orlando Sr., and would cry for him. His touch would calm and reassure me, but I was still hurting and scared. He would say soothing words, carefully open my agonized eye, and lightly reach in with his handkerchief. There was a second of pain and the object was out. As my tears would subside, I could see his handsome, smiling face in front of me. Wow, I felt relief, love, gratitude, and increased trust in him.
Now I realize, of course, that my Lord Jesus does something like this for me every time that I fall into the sinful state of prejudice, fear, and resentment of those I judge to be “bad.” This political season in our country feels like a whirlwind of dust and flying splinters all over the land. We judge politicians, and sadly, look negatively upon our relatives and neighbors, people we love, who support them, argue on their behalf, and criticize our “own” politicians. We might even think, “What is wrong with these persons? Have they lost their moral compass? Are they blind?”
This situation can be very upsetting and depressing, irritating, like a splinter in the eye. Cutting down on the news on the TV helps a little, but the only cure, the only relief for me is to reach out for Jesus my Lord, who in prayer mercifully comes to rescue me, and removes all that garbage from my eye. In prayer His Spirit soothes me, and begins to once again patiently teach me how to see with His eyes, the eyes of Love. I’m not sure, I think it was Buddha, who said, “If you want peace on earth you have to start by finding peace within yourself .” Well, for me, Christ the Prince of Peace is the one that makes this possible. It’s simple. I just try to relax, take a deep breath, call on His name, long for Him, and there He is, my Father, Brother, Doctor, Friend and Savior.
The splinter in the eye can come insidiously at any time. Last night in the nightly news there were three successive segments on devastating fires— the ones in California, the new fires eradicating even more of the Brazilian rain forest, and the one that totally destroyed the tent city where thousands of refugees crowded in the Island of Lesbos in Greece. My wife, Berta looks at me and says, uncharacteristically, “Where is God in all this?” I shake my head, and in my mind I see this image of a dying Earth, burning, afflicted by disease, hatred, extinction of life, abuse, poverty… being held by emaciated, pierced, bleeding hands. And those hands are what gave me hope. Suddenly my wife and I looked into each other’s eyes and remembered Who it is that holds us in the Palm of His Hand, Who is in charge, and His healing of the eyes of our hearts again began. Lord, what would we do without You?
That night, in our virtual prayer meeting, the Scriptural theme consisted of just four lines from the Book of Proverbs, Ch 3: 5-6:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
on your own intelligence do not rely;
in all your ways be mindful of Him,
and He will make straight your paths.”
Jesus good Shepherd, Healer of eyes, lead us through these troubled times. Clear our eyes so we can see You in everyone we meet.
Your Earthly father, Orlando Sr, showed you the way to the Heavenly Father. How blessed you were as a child and now as a grown man continuing to share your blessed stories with us. Thank you from all those who aren’t as fortunate but do find Hope in Christ through the telling of your stories and your prayers.
Your thoughts along with the Buddha quote are appreciated. Have you heard about the Buddhist monk who was visiting New York City last year? He was told that he must try a NY hot dog sold by a street vendor. He goes up to the hot dog stand and says, “Make me one with everything!” before handing over a twenty dollar bill.
The vendor chuckles good-naturedly before doing exactly that, piling a hot dog high with various condiments before handing it over. The monk accepts it, but then he asks, “What about my change?”
The hot dog vendor smiles saying. “O Brother, as you know,
Change comes from within.”