Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus commands us to stop judging others. He asks, “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?” We are exceptionally good at seeing the fault in others, but we are exceptionally adept at ignoring it in ourselves.
There was a very popular book that came out when I was a teenager. It was called I’m Okay and You’re Okay. It represented the culture of exculpation and feel-good-about-yourself. Not many years ago, Christina Aguilera crooned, “I am beautiful in every single way, and words can’t bring me down.” Look at so many of the debates today; the attitude that is winning is one of self-invention and self-assertion. “Who are you to tell me how to behave?”
In all of this, we are fundamentally looking away from our guilt, our fault, our darkness. We are effectively drugging ourselves, dulling the pain of real self-consciousness. In the process, we turn ourselves into God, pretending to be absolute, flawless, and impervious to criticism. So “remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.”