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March 3, 2019
St. Sylvester Church, Kilauea, Kauai
Many times the catechists of our children – lay people who are very generous with their time and talents – complain to me that they do not feel supported by the parents of many of their students, because they drop their children off for class, disappear for an hour, and return to pick them up, without reinforcing the teachings at home. In addition, they say that many parents do not take their children to Mass. Then what they teach about the importance of the Eucharist in the lives of Christians does not produce fruit in action. In this case we can say that such parents are blind guides. They bring their children to catechism classes to learn about their Catholic faith, but their actions say that the practice of the faith is not so important. Of course, I am not speaking of anyone here, because – you are here at Mass! -- but there are many parents who are blind to the fact that they are not reinforcing in their children a love for our faith in Jesus Christ. In this case they are the blind trying to lead the blind.
There is an internet site called “Yelp.” This app offers evaluations of restaurants and hotels by their clients. I noticed the other day that they also evaluate church, and parishioners say, “I really liked such and such a parish,” or “I did not like this other one.” In one way we can say this is a method of evangelization, so that people know where they can find the best services. But on the other hand, we can be blind to the reality that this phenomenon teaches us that we are primarily consumers of the faith. I go to Mass if I like the priest, or the congregation, or the music; but if not, I do not go. Even without the app Yelp, we can have this attitude at times. If we see the splinter in the eyes of those who do not come to Mass, but we do not see the plank in our own eyes that puts our needs before the need to adore the God who created us and saves us, we are going to be blind guides leading the blind, and we both will fall into the ditch. And what is more serious, we want others to participate with us by coming to Mass and participating in divine worship, especially in the Eucharist, but we do not see that we have in our own eyes the plank that thinks the practice of religion can bear fruit without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world and of each one of our souls. We can easily come to Mass and be blind to the fact that the risen Jesus Christ is really present in the proclamation of the Word and in the Eucharist, which is truly the Body and Blood of Christ. If we are blind to this reality of the real presence of Christ, how will we be able to illuminate the hearts of others whom we want to attract to the Church?
In a marriage or a family, there are frequently disagreements and fights. It is very easy to see the faults of others, but not so easy to see our own. As Jesus says, we see well the splinter in the eye of the other person, but not the beam in our own eyes. If marriage and the family are not to fall into a pit, we need to let go of our blindness and work to first take the beam out of our own eyes, so that we can see how to take the splinter out of the eyes of the other members of our family.
This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, and we are going to receive ashes on our foreheads, indicating that we are sinners who do not see our own sins. It is a time of purification in which we focus on the beams in our own eyes, so that, taking them out in the sacrament of Penance, or in other penances, we can better see in order to help others see and remove the splinters from their own eyes. When Easter arrives after these days of penitence, all will see more clearly the light of Christ, so that we can always walk in this light and guide others to this brilliant light that is the merciful love of Christ.