By Bishop Thaddeus Barnum
Don’t you hate when something gets in your eye?
It completely incapacitates me. No matter what I’m doing, I have to stop and get it out. I find my hands rush to my eye -- rubbing, pinching. My eyelids bat, my eye waters. Oddly, my mouth flings open. The longer the object stays in, the more it hurts.
So what is our Lord talking about?
How is it possible to have something in my eye and not notice it?
But that’s the story. Our Lord Jesus Christ describes a caregiver. This person is concerned about the well-being of a brother who’s struggling with a speck in his eye. Already, this story is confusing. How can the caregiver see anything if he’s got the same problem?
And then, more confusing, how can the caregiver offer help by saying, “Let me take the speck out of your eye.” Who does that? How can the caregiver see clearly enough to give any help at all?
Something is profoundly disturbing about this story.
Is our Lord saying we can have something in our eye and forget about it? Not notice it? Is it possible we become accustom to the pain and overtime we forget the pain’s even there? How does that happen? When does what’s abnormal become normal so we don’t even remember what it was like to be normal anymore?
That’s the question our Lord’s asking.
He even compounds the matter by saying the brother has only a speck in his eye while there’s a huge beam of timber in the caregiver’s eye. The comparison is breathtaking; making it all the more difficult to understand why the caregiver isn’t getting help.
But Jesus knows why.
He calls the caregiver a “hypocrite” or “play actor.” This indictment is most troubling. It means, in no uncertain terms, the caregiver is fully aware of what’s going on. There’s something in the eye. Moreover, they’ve made a conscious decision not to deal with it. They let it stay there, even though it blurs their vision. Then, to make matters worse, they knowingly offer help when they themselves are unwilling to get help.
Who does that?
Our Lord praises the caregiver for the kindness to help the brother in need. But He demands proper order, “First, take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
I’m arrested by this story. Who am I to give care unless I’m willing to get care? If I say I see and know I can’t, how will my Lord not look at me and see a play actor too?
Contact the Office of Clergy Care, go to: www.call2disciple.com
To contact Bishop Thaddeus Barnum directly: firstname.lastname@example.org