He also told them a parable: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? 6:40 A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher. 6:41 Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? 6:42 Or how can you say to your neighbour, ‘Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour’s eye. 6:43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; 6:44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 6:45 The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.
“Everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher,” says the Lukan Jesus. What might it mean to become “fully qualified” for discipleship? For Jesus, being fully qualified in the ways of discipleship is not so much a matter of acquiring book knowledge as it is a question of being like the teacher. This is not to discount the importance of acquiring a deep knowledge of the tradition. Jesus certainly knew his own tradition well. Luke presents him as literate, as capable of reading from the sacred scriptures in the Nazareth synagogue and of interpreting the prophetic texts for the assembled congregation. In today’s gospel selection, Luke also presents Jesus as familiar with the secular wisdom of his age. The sayings about the blind leading the blind and the log and speck have clear parallels in ancient literature. Jesus’ closest followers were educated business people with an appreciation of and commitment to their traditions. They were fully qualified in the sense that they had the personal resources to make a difference in the lives of those on the edge.
The primary qualification for the disciple is, however, to be “like the teacher”. Jesus wants his followers to live out in their lives the pattern of his life of attentiveness to the pain of the world, his life of compassion and justice and mercy. Seeing with clarity (without a log in one’s eye) is at the heart of the gospel way of life he proclaims. This theme of seeing permeates Luke’s writings. Seeing and understanding one’s own self is part of that, as is the capacity to see and to understand the rhythm of the forms of life that constitute one’s habitat. The recurrence of agricultural images in Jesus’ sayings is quite remarkable. Jesus grew up in Nazareth, a Jewish village in Lower Galilee, home to vines and olive trees, to goats and sheep and some four hundred human inhabitants. From early childhood, Jesus saw the processes involved in ensuring that the vines produced grapes. He knew the importance of the water from the spring for nurturing the grain crops in the valley close to his home. He knew that brambles and thorns did not yield any edible fruit. It would seem that being “like the teacher” includes closeness to and appreciation of the natural world.
Finally, to be a disciple is to be a “good person” and good persons are those who produce “good treasure” out of the abundance of their hearts. In the Jewish tradition, the heart was the seat of wisdom and knowledge as well as the seat of emotions. In 1 Kings 12:3, for instance, God is said to give Solomon a wise and discerning heart/mind. The Hebrew word for heart (lev) is often translated into English as “mind”. Heart and mind are as one. So it must be for us as disciples.
By Veronica Lawson RSM