Wed, February 23, 202210 mins readFather Hans Buob

8th Sunday

Biblical Homilies on the Sunday Gospels in Reading Year C

The Parable of the Blind, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1568.

Bible passages


Luke 6:39-45

Jesus also gave them another example. He asked, ‘Can a blind person lead another blind person? Won’t they both fall into a pit? The student is not better than the teacher. But everyone who is completely trained will be like their teacher. ‘You look at the bit of sawdust in your friend’s eye. But you pay no attention to the piece of wood in your own eye. How can you say to your friend, “Let me take the bit of sawdust out of your eye”? How can you say this while there is a piece of wood in your own eye? You pretender! First take the piece of wood out of your own eye. Then you will be able to see clearly to take the bit of sawdust out of your friend’s eye. ‘A good tree doesn’t bear bad fruit. And a bad tree doesn’t bear good fruit. You can tell each tree by the kind of fruit it bears. People do not pick figs from thorns. And they don’t pick grapes from bushes. A good man says good things. These come from the good that is stored up in his heart. An evil man says evil things. These come from the evil that is stored up in his heart. A person’s mouth says everything that is in their heart.

Biblical Homilies


"Jesus also gave them another example. He asked, ‘Can a blind person lead another blind person? Won’t they both fall into a pit?“ (cf. verse 39)

At the beginning of today's Gospel it becomes clear: Jesus is not speaking here to all people, but only to his disciples, i.e. to those who have consciously chosen him.

Jesus warns them against blind leaders, i.e. false teachers who are blind to the truth and do not proclaim the full truth, but go beyond Jesus in their teaching, as it were, and think they know better than Jesus himself. Such teachers also exist in our time, even in our church. If such blind people then lead blind people - that is, people who do not yet know the truth - do they not both fall into the pit?

"The student is not better than the teacher. But everyone who is completely trained will be like their teacher.“ (cf. verse 40)

Jesus now explains what is important to him: The best disciple is the one who has become as much as possible like his teacher in knowledge, and who has made the words and thinking of Jesus completely his own. He identifies himself as deeply as possible with Jesus. In view of the previous verse, Jesus wants to make it clear that these blind leaders seem to recognize Jesus as their teacher - they talk about him all the time - but they refer to him wrongly, because they bring new teaching, a "hyper", as it is called in Greek, a more, which cannot be traced back to Christ, the only teacher. These false teachers add something to the teaching of Jesus or make deductions and thus reinterpret the Holy Scriptures. Perhaps a second thought could be added to this word: If the other person knew everything evil that I have already done against him, talked about him or thought about him - would I not then actually deserve two slaps in the face, not just one? Actually, he is still very patient with me. He only gives me one slap because he doesn't know everything I've already committed against him. That too is part of self-knowledge: I have always taken away more from the other person in terms of honor and recognition etc. than just a coat. Shouldn't I even let him have his shirt?

We know this problem well enough today in the various Christian denominations, but unfortunately, we can and must also experience such things in our own church. But Jesus gives us a criterion for discernment: Whoever does not teach like his teacher, namely like Christ, is to be rejected. Whoever goes beyond Christ and his teaching is to be rejected. Anyone who does not proclaim the truth in all its fullness, but cuts corners out of fear of man, is to be rejected.

"‘You look at the bit of sawdust in your friend’s eye. But you pay no attention to the piece of wood in your own eye. 42 How can you say to your friend, “Let me take the bit of sawdust out of your eye”? How can you say this while there is a piece of wood in your own eye? You pretender! First take the piece of wood out of your own eye. Then you will be able to see clearly to take the bit of sawdust out of your friend’s eye.“ (cf. verse 41-42)

Jesus now asks two questions. The first directs our gaze away from the small splinter faults of others to our own huge guilt. If we are honest, we have to admit that we often see the faults of our fellow human beings as much bigger than our own. In the case of our own, we then speak of weaknesses for which everyone should have understanding, and are surprised that some people are angry with us because of this. But towards others, we ourselves are often very harsh judges. Let's think about whether that doesn't often apply to us as well.

The second question admonishes us - in the awareness of our own guilt - not to want to improve the other person first. Jesus wants to steer us away from the false desire to make others better and at the same time awaken in us the will to repent for our own sins. He who judges his fellow man exposes himself to ridicule because he actually reveals his own great faults, which God will have to deal with one day in judgment, in contrast to the faults he sees in his brother and judges. Jesus says very, very clearly: "First remove the beam from your eye", i.e. he leads me to self-knowledge: First of all, become aware of all your faults and how great your many faults are. Be honest with yourself for once. Then you will be so shocked that you will become so humble and not condemn the other person, but in all humility help him to pull out his smaller faults, i.e. his splinters from his eye. If, however, I always regard the other person's faults as greater than my own and always talk down my own faults, I will never be able to help the other person overcome his faults, but I will always only condemn him from above. And this attitude eventually becomes a judgment on me.

"‘A good tree doesn’t bear bad fruit. And a bad tree doesn’t bear good fruit. You can tell each tree by the kind of fruit it bears. People do not pick figs from thorns. And they don’t pick grapes from bushes.“ (cf. verse 43-44)

In the image of the tree and its fruit, Jesus once again speaks of these false teachers, as it were. It is immediately obvious to us that we do not want to harvest fruit that is not of the kind of the tree, e.g. not figs or grapes of thistles. The good and bad fruits are about a distinguishing characteristic with regard to people: From such teachers as preach false doctrines, are blind to the truth, and mislead others who seek the truth, one must not seek instruction.

For the listeners of that time, it seems to be clear who Jesus means here with these thistles and thorns. For the people of that time, there is no need for unmasking. Nothing good can be expected from the false teachers and everyone knows who is meant. All that is really needed is a warning against them and their teachings. It is not so much a matter of discerning the spirits as of defense. But are we clear about what Jesus wants to say to us today with this text? Do we recognize what is wrong with the teachings of the false teachers - this includes a knowledge of the truth - or do we perhaps belong to the blind who do not yet know everything and are still searching for the truth? In the latter case, we must not allow ourselves to be led by the blind who, for their part, do not have the truth in all its fullness, but we must find teachers who have it in fullness - and these are those who live according to the Word of God, who truly produce fruits of the truth, whose lives correspond with the life of Jesus, with the teaching of the Church, with the teaching of the Gospel.

"A good man says good things. These come from the good that is stored up in his heart. An evil man says evil things. These come from the evil that is stored up in his heart. A person’s mouth says everything that is in their heart." (cf. verse 45)

In the following, Jesus transfers this image of the tree concretely to the human being: The heart is the source of good and evil. It is the center of the human being. The essential values of the human being are summarized in the heart. It is about the innermost imprinting and shaping of my heart by Christ. "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." (Gal 2:20) This does not refer to good and evil thoughts or deeds, but to verbal expressions, because: "The mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

The false teachers are not good in their hearts. They are those rotten trees that bear bad fruit. They do not see the beam in their own eye. That is why they are blind. They live past Christ or even exalt themselves above him with their special teachings. Therefore, one must not want to gather good fruit from them.

Here we always have to look at the human being. Sometimes people bring about something seemingly good. For example, they pray with a sick person for physical healing and he actually loses his pain. However, the sick person cannot now simply assume that the person who prayed for him must be a person who is completely connected to Christ since the sick person has lost his pain. Rather, he must look at the heart of this person who has prayed for him: Is his heart really completely with Christ? Does salvation really come from Christ? It may be that a person prays with people for healing in the evening and into the night and something seems to happen. But if this person is cruel to his spouse, for example, and possibly lives in adultery with someone else, what he does cannot come from God, because through sin this person is completely impervious to the grace of God.

Again and again, the question arises among practicing Christians: Is a certain medicine usable or could it be occult? The medicine itself is natural. It depends on the person who produces or administers it. If this person is neutral, then the medicine is natural. If, however, he or she discusses the medicine, i.e. works with magic, then the same medicine can produce negative effects in us in addition to its natural effect. What matters is not what I am experiencing at the moment, but I have to look at the tree. A bad tree does not produce good fruit, even if it sometimes seems so on the outside. An evil person does not bear good fruit, even if it sometimes seems so on the outside. What is decisive are the things that are and work in the heart of the person. That is why I have to look at the person and ask myself again and again: What kind of person is this to whom I listen and whom I believe? Jesus' final sentence at the end of the Sermon on the Mount is a general rule for all times: What does not come from Jesus, we are to reject. Let us listen to this word of God again and decide. ∎