The first six verses of today’s reading speak to me about our shared humanity. These are not simply six verses focused on teaching people not to judge or condemn one another. These are six verses reminding us of the fact that we all fall short. We all have specks or planks in our eyes. We all need to be forgiven. The way we treat others is the way we will be treated. The behaviours, judgment, condemnation, and forgiveness that Jesus talks about in these first six verses can be viewed as an opportunity to really see one another more clearly.
Verses 43 through 45 continue this theme using the image of fruit. We can tell what a person has stored up in the heart by the fruit they produce. In some ways I really love this image, but in others, it makes me really uncomfortable. The concept is wonderful. I get it. It makes perfect sense. However, the reality can be a bit harder to deal with.
My parents have, in their new backyard in Arizona, a huge orange tree. I mean huge! But it is really bizarrely shaped. The first time I went out to look at it I was sure it was two trees, because one giant branch has curved all the way down to the ground, creating an arch between the end of the branch and the trunk of the tree. The tree takes up the space of two trees and that means that my parents really don’t have a backyard. So, if I were judging this tree on it’s beauty, or it’s placement, or the ability to give helpful shade for the backyard, or the accuracy of looking like my mental picture of an orange tree, it would fail, miserably! However, that’s not what we judge an orange tree on. An orange tree is judged by it’s fruit. And by that measure, this tree is phenomenal. I couldn’t count the number of oranges on it (or I wasn’t willing to spend the time doing it). The tree was full of oranges and the few that were ripe when I was down there in December were delicious. This tree produces good fruit.
I wonder how many times I have used the wrong guidelines, the wrong score sheet, the wrong assumptions, the wrong metrics to consider the value of a person. I’m afraid it’s all too often. I wonder how many times other people have used the wrong metrics to measure my value - probably all too often. I want to be recognized by my fruit. I want to be able to recognize others by their fruit. May we all be attentive to the fruit produced by those around us in this Lenten season.
Lenten Reader 2018
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