My Dear people,
In this last passage of the sermon, Jesus teaches a parable using a variety of vivid images. In the first he points out that a blind person cannot guide a blind person, since both will fall into a pit. Jesus is metaphorically speaking about the relationship between teacher and disciple. The parallel saying in Matthew specifically applies to the Pharisees as false teachers. The same is likely true here, in view of the series of five controversies with the Pharisees, which also mentions the “teacher of the Law” (5:17). Jesus himself will be called “teacher” about a dozen times in Luke. Since every disciple will be like his teacher, Jesus is setting before his listeners the choice between following him as teacher or following others.
The image of the splinter in a brother’s eye and wooden beam in the one’s own eye teaches the lesson of not judging others’ faults without first addressing our own worse faults. Otherwise, one is a hypocrite. Jesus is ruling out not fraternal correction (see Luke 17:3) but rather a critical spirit. The context suggests a specific reference to those Pharisees who are on the lookout to accuse others.
The choice between two ways of living, one good and one evil, is now set forth with the image of a tree that is known either by its good fruit or its rotten fruit. The early Christians used this biblical theme of two ways as a means of instruction in moral conduct. The Old Testament similarly contrasts the ways of life and earth, even using the imagery of a tree with its fruit.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Vincent Clemente