Seeing Clearly

BY FR. BRIAN ZUMBRUM, OSFS

8th Sunday in Ordinary Time | March 3, 2019

See today’s readings here. This homily focuses on the Gospel reading. The archive of all of Fr. Brian’s homilies can be found hereSalesian Sermons

Okay, so full disclosure.  I have never been one to take feedback well.  A point I probably shouldn’t share with my boss in the room.

But let’s be clear: this is not a new development.

When I was in high school singing in the choir and the choir director would gently suggest I needed to sing a little softer because, you know, I was literally screaming, I was offended.  Everyone else just needs to sing louder. I am a gift to this music program.

Or when my director would suggest that I was over-acting a particular scene.  I would sulk for days. Making sure to be as overly-dramatic in real life as I was on stage.

Nor is it something that miraculously got better as I became an adult.

When we would have our formation reviews as an Oblate, I would sit there going, Are you kidding me?  You’re coming at my martyr complex when you can’t even make it to prayer each morning.

Or when I would be evaluated as a new teacher, I would sit there going, These kids just threw a book at their English teacher. And you’re coming at my classroom management skills.

Yeah, the seeing the plank in my own eye, not exactly a strength for me.

But it was just a few weeks ago when I finally got some insight into why.

See, I was teaching class and I asked the students to answer this question.

Who am I?

And as I was looking at their replies, I began to see a trend.

All of their answers were lists of roles.

I am a student.  An athlete. An actor.  

I am a son, a friend, a boyfriend.

And I realized that my answers would not be too different.

I am an Oblate, a priest, a campus minister, a chaplain, a teacher.  I am a son, brother, friend, colleague.

But there is a danger to this answer.

For roles can either be done well or done poorly.

And therefore our identity can be at the mercy of our performance.

And so we can get so protective of how we perform these roles, because this is where we find worth.

If only I am the perfect student, spouse, employee or mother, then I will have worth.

I cannot mess up.  I can’t make a mistake.  I can’t fail. I can’t sin.

Because then I lose my worth.

For if I am not these roles, then who am I?

Well the answer is actually quite simple.  And incredibly important.

We are children of God.  Members of the Body of Christ.  

And therefore, we are inherently good.

There is nothing we can do that loses this identity.  Nothing we can do that makes God love us any less.

And there is nothing we can do to make God love us any more.

And therefore, we know longer need to be afraid of the planks in our eyes. For those planks do not define us. They no longer threaten who we are.

And so we can gradually work to remove them.

Allowing our identity to more clearly shine forth.  Our identity as God’s beloved. Sources of light and love for a troubled world.

So let’s get to work my friends.  For I know I’ve got some planks that need to go.

May God be Praised.

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