8th Sunday (C)

“A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit.”  

The first reading from the Book of Sirach teaches that what is inside us is revealed through our conversation.  It is like the grain and husks are separated in a farmer’s sieve, as the quality of the metal is revealed in the potter’s fire, and as the size and quality of a tree’s fruit reveal the care it has received from the planter. Sirach’s teaching serves as an excellent preview for today’s Gospel. It reminds us, when we’re feeling judgmental, to think before we speak because what comes out of our mouth reveals our heart.       

The Gospel of the day is a continuation of the translation of the beatitudes, which is a program to achieve perfection in Christian life. Jesus asks his disciples the question: “Can a blind person guide a blind person?” In order to   lead a blind person, one must be sighted; in order to teach, one must be knowledgeable; otherwise the blind person and the student will be lost. The sight and the knowledge specified here are the insights that come through Faith, the Holy Spirit and the knowledge that comes from a Faith-filled relationship with the Lord. The point of this image of the blind leading the blind is that we must be careful when choosing whom to follow, lest we stumble into a pit alongside our blind guide.   

Advice for students & teachers of Scripture: The Christian disciples are called upon to be both    guides and teachers. Since a teacher cannot lead his students beyond what he himself has been taught, he must learn from the best teacher and then continue to learn Scripture from all available sources; the best being the Holy Spirit Who inspired Holy Scripture. Then, the learner must apply what he has learned to his own life before trying to teach others. Our goal in the Christian life must be to become like our Teacher, Jesus, in our thoughts, words, and actions.  

We have no right to criticize and judge others:The first reason Jesus gives us is we have no right to criticize unless we ourselves are free of faults. That simply means that we have no right to criticize at all, because “there is so much bad in the best of us and so much good in the worst of us that it ill becomes any of us to find fault with the rest of us.” Jesus clarifies his point by presenting the humorous simile of a man with a log stuck in his own eye trying to extract a speck of dust from someone else’s eye. It means that the task of fraternal correction (removing specks, etc.) should not be attempted without prior self-examination, though the disciple need not be completely without imperfections before the process can begin. 

We must be good at heart to be good at our deeds:“A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit.” One of the first principles in philosophy is “action follows the being.”  The fruitfulness of the tree depends on its nature. So it can easily be applied to our life. It is by our words, actions and the way of life, that we bear witness to Christ. There should not be any discrepancy in what we say and do.  The fruitfulness of our life entirely depends on the authenticity and credibility of our life.  No wonder, He confronted the Scribes and the Pharisees for their double standard of life. He wanted everyone to live a sincere and honest life by loving God and their neighbors. Naturally the leaders of the time could not accept His teaching because of their hypocritical life, which he condemned it right through in every aspect.  He tells the people to obey what they tell you, but do not imitate them.

"The treasure of the heart is the same as the root of the tree," St Bede explains. "A person who has a treasure of patience and of perfect charity in his heart yields excellent fruit; he loves his neighbor and has all the other qualities Jesus teaches; he loves his enemies, does good to him who hates him, blesses him who curses him, prays for him who calumniates him, does not react against him who attacks him or robs him; he gives to those who ask, does not claim what they have stolen from him, wishes not to judge and does not condemn, corrects patiently and affectionately those who err. But the person who has in his heart the treasure of evil does exactly the opposite: he hates his friends, speaks evil of him who loves him and does all the other things condemned by the Lord."

Paul teaches that the transformation to immortality has been made possible for all only because of Jesus Christ.Christ’s resurrection was not only the first example of the final resurrection but also one that will make all other resurrections of the believers, at the end possible. Paul also argues that our resurrection isan elevation to an entirely new mode of existence because the resurrected will acquire a “spiritual” body. Christ by his death on the cross and his rising alone have accomplished the victory over death. Hence, Paul concludes: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”The hard work of the Christian life is not in vain, because the Christian is “in the Lord” who has already won the victory.