03 March 2019 – Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
A change of perspective
While it’s natural enough to assess other people, we’re not so good at seeing our own blind spots. Worse still is that I feel our expression of Christianity shows a rising tendency to claim the high moral ground and shoot at everyone else. It has really nothing to do with church attendance (attendees tend to be all labelled as “hypocrites” repeatedly and boringly by some)- it seems to be part of who we are. Maybe it gives the critic a bit of status. We need to remember that “our very business in life is not to get ahead of others…but to get ahead of ourselves.” (Thomas Monson). I was reminded recently of a colleague who had prepared a script for use in a parish ceremony. It was marked almost unconsciously by a retired teacher on the committee, mistakes highlighted in red biro. He didn’t react and simply said to her “you always were a really good teacher.” To his surprise, tears welled up in her. Maybe a critical spirit says more about us than about what is criticised? When you think of it, our words flow from what is in the heart. If we are filled with the love of God, then we will judge mercifully. Too often we are negative in our criticism of the petty faults of others, forgetting that we too are imperfect. We can turn to Christ in our weakness, knowing that in the Lord we can never labour in vain.
They tell of a young married couple who had moved house. The very first morning as they sat down to breakfast together. The wife looked out the window, and to her surprise, she saw her new neighbour handling dirty laundry on the clothesline. So she made some remarks about how the neighbour clearly didn’t know how to wash clothes. This went on for a while as they gradually settled into their new home, until one morning- she looked out and saw that the neighbours’ laundry was clean.
‘Wow, look!’ the surprised wife said to her husband, ‘Her clothes are clean! Someone must have taught her how to wash her clothes!’ The husband kindly responded; “well….actually, I got up early this morning and washed the window.’
And so it is with life—what we see when watching others depends on our very personal “window” through which we look. “Washing” our own windows from time to time changes our perspective.