In the old Star Trek series, “Scotty” was the engineer in charge of the ship. He was the man you went to when you wanted to be zapped down onto the planet where your energy source was hidden (that was usually spewing molten lava or had aliens with bad make-up) or the neighboring ship with all the cute barbie-like population of kitchy up-do girls who capture the hearts of Captain Kirk and Spock (even though he doesn’t really feel those kinds of things supposedly. Or to travel into another time or realm where you can fix the void in space making your ship’s voyage impassable. “Beam me up, Scotty” is all you had to say for the tube-like column to zap you back to the The Starship Enterprise.
During its years, this show became inspiration for summertime backyard adventures because who wouldn’t want to be zapped in or out of a situation, time, place, etc.? I don’t know about you, but I think this could be tremendously handy. When it comes to this last Sunday before Lent, I recognize that my desire to be able to be “beamed” in and out of situations may be related to the kind of “beam” this gospel is discussing. Both come down to pride and ease that are self-serving (ok maybe that’s a stretch, but it’s a fun play on the word.) If I really want to be transported to another realm, all I actually have to do is enter into deep prayer. When I do that, I can discover all of the things that are blocking me from being transported to the sense of freedom I am yearning for, and that is where Jesus is recommending we remove the “beam” from our eye before looking around at what everyone else is doing.
Gospel LK 6:39-45
“Can a blind person guide a blind person?
Will not both fall into a pit?
No disciple is superior to the teacher;
but when fully trained,
every disciple will be like his teacher.
Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye,
but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?
How can you say to your brother,
‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’
when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye?
You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first;
then you will see clearly
to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.”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.
For people do not pick figs from thornbushes,
nor do they gather grapes from brambles.
A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good,
but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil;
for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”
but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?
Every evening, make an “examination of conscience”, like a prayer, to determine if it was “the Spirit of God or the spirit of the world” that prompted us throughout the day. This is a decisive action in our “spiritual battle” which leads us to “understand His heart” and the meaning of Christ. This is the suggestion that Pope Francis made during Mass at Santa Marta on Tuesday, 4 September, recalling that a person’s heart is like a “battlefield” where, throughout the day, “the Spirit of God, which leads us to good works, to charity, to fraternity” encounters “the spirit of the world, which leads us to vanity, pride, sufficiency, gossip”. —Pope Francis,
At the end of each day (or as soon as we recognize our blunder) we turn to God, own it verbally and lay it before Him, without fear, trusting in His great mercy. When we can, we go to a priest and receive the sacramental grace of a confession and keep clear the path for grace in our lives. I have found the graces of a good confession break off so much junk in my own mind (presuppositions, biases, judgement, and lies) and it is truly the greatest freedom that one can feel.
Our Lord Himself I saw in this venerable Sacrament . . . I felt as if my chains fell, as those of St. Peter at the touch of the Divine messenger. My God, what new scenes for my soul!
–St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
My daughter, just as you prepare in My presence, so also you make your confession before Me. The person of the priest is, for Me, only a screen. Never analyse what sort of a priest it is that I am making use of; open your soul in confession as you would to Me, and I will fill it with My light. (1725)
–St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul
An Act Of Contrition
After focusing on one or two measurable things to work on for the following day as a results of this examination, then recognizing your mistakes, the next step of saying your are sorry is vital. The “Act of Contrition” is one prayer we can use that expresses our repentance, or simply a prayer expressing sorry for the hurt we have left on God, ourselves, and those around us by our mistakes, asking God for help to avoid this again.
Nothing breaks the bonds of sin and pride like forgiveness. We cannot begin to remove the beam of pride when we are feeling victimized. As we have heard time and again, forgiveness is a choice. Sometimes forgiving a particular person takes an act of will, or we can even “fake it till we make it” by speaking it out when we don’t feel it. Whatever the case, that victimization of holding on to resentments can imprison us. Even if it means the one to be forgiven, is our own self.
I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him.
The forgiveness of God is one thing, but the proof that we want that forgiveness is the energy we expend to make amends for the wrong.
Archbishop Fulton Sheen