8th Sunday in Ordinary Time C
Readings: Sirach 27:4‑7 1 Corinthians 15:54‑58 Luke 6:39‑45
“Each tree is known by its yield.” In this Sunday's Gospel Jesus reaffirms the wisdom traditions of his Jewish ancestors and continues to instruct his disciples in the ethics of the Kingdom of God. Our responsorial psalm (Ps 92) promises that "the just shall flourish like the palm tree/ like a cedar of Lebanon shall he grow." In gratitude for this assurance, let us sing the words of the refrain: "Lord, it is good to give thanks to you."
The reading from Sirach makes the sage observation that, for better or worse, speech and conversation reveal a person's character. “As the test of what the potter molds is in the furnace,/ so in his conversation is the test of a man.” On the one hand, when evil people speak, their faults are evident. “When a sieve is shaken, the husks appear,/ so do a man’s faults when he speaks.” On the other hand, thoughtful speech discloses the bent of one's mind, like “the fruit of a tree shows the care it has had.”
The Epistle reading concludes Paul's defense of the resurrection, which we have been reading for the past four weeks in 1 Corinthians 15. Paul asserts that at the final resurrection, when our "corruptible frame takes on incorruptibility and the mortal immortality," God's final victory over Sin and Death will be complete. He understands this victory as the fulfillment of two Scripture texts drawn from the prophets: "Death is swallowed up in victory" (Isa 25:8) and "O death where is your victory? O death where is your sting?" (Hos 13:14). Although the law was powerless to defeat the allied powers of Sin and Death (see Rom 7), Paul thanks God that the victory has now been won "through our Lord Jesus Christ" in his obedient death and triumphant resurrection. He concludes by exhorting the Corinthians to “be steadfast and persevering . . . in the work of the Lord.”
In the Gospel Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Plain by giving his disciples a series of priceless parables about judgment. Some of them are quite humorous. He captures the folly of committing one's life to a foolish teacher in the questions: "Can a blind man act as guide to a blind man? Will they not both fall into a ditch?" He lampoons the presumption of daring to judge someone else in the picture of the hypocrite straining to remove “the speck” in his brother's eye while he has a “plank” in his own. "Why look at the speck in your brother's eye when you miss the plank in your own? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck from your eye,’ yet fail yourself to see the plank lodged in your own.” We should rather be concerned with correcting our own faults. “Hypocrite, remove the plank from your own eye first; then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” He reminds his disciples that their deeds reveal what is in their hearts. “A good tree does not bear rotten fruit; nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its fruit. For people do not pick figs from thorn-bushes, nor do the gather grapes from brambles.” And he concludes with the observation we heard in Sirach, speech reveals a person’s character. “A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of the store of evil produces evil, but from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”