“Why do you look for the speck in your brother’s eye?”

The blessed disciples were to be the spiritual guides and teachers of the whole world. It had therefore to be clearly seen by all that they held fast to the true faith. It was essential for them to be familiar with the gospel way of life, skilled in every good work, and to give teaching that was precise, salutary, and scrupulously faithful to the truth they themselves had long pondered, enlightened by the divine radiance. Otherwise they would be blind leaders of the blind. Those imprisoned in the darkness of ignorance can never lead others in the same sorry state to knowledge of the truth. Should they try, both would fall headlong into the ditch of the passions.

To destroy the ostentatious passion of boastfulness and stop people from trying to win greater honor than their teachers, Christ declared: The disciple is not above his teacher. Even if some should advance so far as to equal their teachers in holiness, they ought to remain within the limits set by them, and follow their example. Paul also taught this when he said: Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. So then, if the Master does not judge, why are you judging? He came not to judge the world, but to take pity on it.

What he is saying, then, is this: “If I do not pass judgment, neither must you, my disciple. You may be even more guilty of the faults of which you accuse another. Will you not be ashamed when you come to realize this?” The Lord uses another illustration for the same teaching when he says: Why do you look for the speck in your brother’s eye?

With compelling arguments he persuades us that we should not want to judge others, but should rather examine our own hearts, and strive to expel the passions seated in them, asking this grace from God. He it is who heals the contrite of heart and frees us from our spiritual disorders. If your own sins are greater and worse than other people’s, why do you censure them, and neglect what concerns yourself?

This precept, then, is essential for all who wish to live a holy life, and particularly for those who have undertaken the instruction of others. If they are virtuous and self-restrained, giving an example of the gospel way of life by their own actions, they will rebuke those who do not choose to live as they do in a friendly way, so as not to break their own habit of gentleness.

St Cyril of Alexandria

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