8th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C
A Plank’s Worth of Control
To write the preschool Faith Formation curriculum each week, a lesson based on that Sunday’s gospel reading, Mary Yeakle and I try to distill Jesus’s words into something easily understandable to the little ones. It’s not always easy. Actually, it’s almost never easy. It forces me to look in a mirror each week, which is rarely fun. But isn’t that the purpose of the scriptures? They aren’t meant just to be proclaimed from the ambo by a guy in a regal vestment. They are also meant to lived, and we can only do that when we look for the reflection of the gospel in our own lives.
Just prior to this gospel, Jesus says, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged” (Luke 6:47). He goes on to expand on that statement in this Sunday’s gospel, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (v. 41) In other words, what the other person is doing wrong is not much (a speck), but what we are doing wrong is huge (a plank). “But…,” we argue (or at least I do), “what I’m doing is NOWHERE near as bad as them! I’m the speck—they’re the plank!”
I don’t think Jesus’s point here is the severity of the act. I think His point is what we have control over. The amount of control we have over what the other person is doing is “a speck,” almost non-existent. The amount of control we have over what we do is significantly more—a plank’s worth, actually.
My husband reminded me of this recently when he asked me how my day went. I was struggling with some people’s behavior and railing loudly against their actions. Mark took the focus off them entirely when he asked, “Well, how did your presentation go?” “Oh that?” I replied. “That went well,” before I went back to complaining. He looked at me a little a little puzzled. “But, Ansley,” he said, “your stuff is all you really have control over.”
Whoos… went the air out of my next words. I (temporarily) stopped my complaining. In judging others, maybe legitimately and maybe not, I was so busy looking at the specks everywhere else that not only was I not paying attention to my own faults, I wasn’t even celebrating my own wins! We all have free will. That means I don’t control others. I do control myself. I have to turn the behavior of others over to God, and I have to keep working on my own behavior in conjunction with God’s guidance. Then maybe I won’t cringe too much when I look in the scripture mirror each week.
Written Ansley Dauenhauer, Coordinator of Elementary Youth Ministry