“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, and not perceive the log that is in your own eye?”—Luke 6:41
Have you ever noticed that most of us at home tend to stay in the room with the most sunlight? Certainly, I have always gravitated to sitting by the window, whether at home or anywhere else. Daylight has a life-giving quality.
Thus, I was surprised to discover that not everyone shares this same habit. Years ago, while staying at a relative’s home, I came downstairs in the evening and found the whole main level shrouded in near total darkness; only a small corner lamp was lit, while my husband’s uncle was going about his usual tasks in the kitchen. After a few minutes I finally asked if I could switch on the main lights. He paused, as if not quite understanding the need for light; and it was then that I realized he had become used to living in this relative darkness.
How, Then, Do We See?
This scene illustrates the discord of our different human perspectives. If one person lives in relative light, while the other lives in darkness, how do they see clearly? And how do they even speak to each other?
Today’s Gospel reading forces us to recognize that more often than not, we ourselves are the ones who fail to see clearly, while we delight in picking out the small faults of others. Jesus tells us that before we take the speck out of our neighbor’s eye, we must first remove the log from our own.
The Log in Your Eye
This phrase, “the log in your eye,” always struck me as a mere exaggeration, until I started to reflect upon the absurd reality of it. Consider for a moment, what would it be like to have a real log lodged in your eye? The answer is illuminating.
Firstly, we wouldn’t be able to see anything else around us. The log would encompass our whole visual field. Put simply, we would remain in a state of seeing only the log, extrapolating that distorted vision to the reality around us. Such is the nature of living only within ourselves: the world around us becomes an extension of our own ego.
Secondly, we would have to spend a great deal of energy in simply holding the log in our eye. From time to time, we would feel the weariness of supporting its weight. Thirdly, while we would believe ourselves to be normal and even better than those around us, to all other eyes, we would appear quite grotesque. Indeed, this log would end up striking everyone we encountered!
If such is the nature of our self-oriented vision, how do we go about removing the log? Is there any hope of seeing clearly? Or must we all go around like “the blind leading the blind,” walking with logs in our eyes?
Look Up and Look Beyond
Here, meditating upon the actual parable offers us the solution. For the person carrying the log in his eye, the perceived external world is not stable, but shifts according to his own movements. However, once he looks up at the sky, or at anything fixed in position, he automatically steps outside the frame of self-oriented vision. He no longer sees through the ego, but gazes upon what is objectively good, true, and beautiful—that is to say, the face of God.
Let us allow today’s reading to convict our hearts and minds. Through our fallen nature we all bear heavy logs in our own eyes, contraptions of our ego that falsely color the reality around us. We must resolve to look up and beyond the frame of our own little universe, to the true universe around us. Yet what adventure awaits, once we let the log fall away, and we surrender to the glory of He who created us!