Friends, Jesus’ parable in today’s Gospel is one of the most psychologically and spiritually insightful remarks in the New Testament. Let’s face it: a favorite pastime of most human beings is criticism of others.
We delight in pointing out the shortcomings, moral failings, and annoying tendencies of our neighbors. This is, of course, a function of pride and egotism: the more I put someone else down, the more elevated I feel.
But it is also, oddly, a magnificent means of turning a mirror on ourselves, to see what usually remains unseen. Why, we ought to ask, do we find precisely this sin of others particularly annoying? Why does that trait or sin of a confrere especially gall us?
Undoubtedly, Jesus implies, because it reminds us of a similar failing in ourselves. I remember a retreat director asking each of us to call to mind a person that we found hard to take and then to recount in detail the characteristics that made the person so obnoxious to us. Then he recommended that we go back to our room and ask God to forgive those same faults in ourselves. His words were as unnerving and as illuminating as these words of Jesus.