To read the texts click on the texts: Sirach 27:4-7; 1 Cor 15:54-58; Luke6:39:45
I once visited a friend of mine who had a ten year old son named Vishal. While I was chatting with my friend, his son walked into the room. After asking him about his School and other activities, I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He responded, “I want to be like my father”. His father is a businessman, a dealer in spare parts for automobiles, and so I presumed he wanted to join his father in his business. I said, “Vishal, do you want to be a businessman like your father, a dealer in spare parts for automobiles?” He replied, “No, I want to be kind like my father.” His father’s kindness of heart showed in everything his father said and did. His father manifested the kindness that was within with every action and word done without.
It was St. Francis of Assisi who said, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words”. It seems that Francis was influenced to make this statement by what Jesus says in the Gospel text of today. It is so often true that actions speak louder than words and a person is known by the actions that he/she performs. However, it must be remembered that a person’s actions flow from a person’s heart and thus the primary focus must be on the heart. As the German mystic Meister Eckhart says, “You should bother less about what you ought to do and think more about what you ought to be because if your being were good then your works will shine forth brightly”. This is an apt summary of the readings of today.
Addressing his disciples through a proverb and parables, Jesus explicates what it means to be a true disciple. The proverb about the blind leading the blind is a challenge to the disciples to be better qualified than those they seek to serve. This qualification has nothing to with degrees or diplomas, but everything to do with trying to be like Jesus. In so doing they will not look for faults in others, but will focus on the positives in them and at the same time constantly strive to become aware of their own shortcomings. This awareness of one’s own weakness will make one humble and also more accepting of others. Then truly will there be a synchrony between what one is and what one does, the being and action, the saying and doing. The former will inevitably be exposed by the latter. Discipleship, therefore, requires not just good deeds. It requires integrity and a purity of heart such as one sees in Jesus himself.
A similar point is made in the first reading of today when Sirach points out that a person is known through the fruit he/she produces. The fruit produced is a result of what lies within. This is because what is seen about a person externally is what that person is within. The speech and actions of a person convey what lies in his/her heart and mind.
There is a tendency among so many of us today to focus so much on the action and on doing that we forget about being. If we were to count the number of miracles that Jesus worked as narrated by the Synoptic Gospels, the number totals around thirty. In a three year ministry of Jesus, this works out to an average of ten miracles a year or just about one miracle every month, which is not very much. Be that as it may, Jesus is not worshipped and adored today because of his miracles, important as they may have been to his whole ministry. Jesus is worshipped today because he dared to be good. When Peter, who formed the inner group of three disciples, summarized the life of Jesus for Cornelius and his family at Caesarea, he did so in a few words namely “he went about doing good…” In other words, Peter focussed like Vishal not on the external deeds of Jesus but on what Jesus was from within. Because Jesus was ‘good’ all that he said and did was also good.
In the second reading Paul gives an eschatological reason for focusing on being rather than doing. The present body that we have is perishable and mortal. We can put on imperishability and immortality by being resolute and immovable and through this excel in the work of the Lord. The example of Jesus whose whole being was good must be our constant motivation. If we follow the example of Jesus, then people will say of us his disciples, “see how they go about doing good”.