In recent years we have become familiar with the expression ‘Fake News’, it was a theme picked up by the former President of the United States; which he used for News articles which he disagreed with. For me though, it highlights that we need to be careful which source of news we trust. The internet is full of items which can gather momentum and have people believe they are true; but which have no link with actual facts. As I said a few weeks ago, no matter how many times a lie is told, it is still a lie and no matter how uncomfortable the truth is it is still the truth.

The reading we hear this Sunday from the Book of Ecclesiasticus tells us that what a man speaks betrays his true nature and that trees are judged by the quality of the fruit. This indicates the importance of speaking truthfully. Likewise in the Gospel Jesus speaks about good fruit coming from good trees; this is an image used frequently in the Bible to illustrate what lies in a good person’s heart.

In a continuation from the Gospel we heard last week, Jesus uses the parable of the splinter and the plank as he tells us not to judge. This parable is basically telling us to look to our own faults first before we start to tell others what their faults are. Jesus is saying that we can all be so busy looking at other people’s faults that we fail to see the tensions we cause by the issues we have ourselves. Our failure to see our own faults hampers our ability to be empathetic towards others and removes our ability to be compassionate as we are unable to share in their pain.

This week most of the world are feeling compassion for Ukraine; many fine words have been spoken by political leaders around the world. Many world landmarks have been lit up with the colours of the Ukrainian flag. The Holy Father has said

I invite everyone to make next March 2, Ash Wednesday, a day of fasting for peace. I encourage believers in a special way to devote themselves intensely to prayer and fasting on that day. May the Queen of Peace preserve the world from the madness of war.”1

By joining in this special day, we are showing solidarity for the people of Ukraine; and also the people of Russia; who do not want to be at war with people they have close links with.

I pray Pope Francis’ initiative is successful and that people all around the world join in to send a clear message to every world leader that people do not want or need another war. The people advocating war are like the blind men mentioned in the Gospel leading each other into a pit; a pit of destruction.

When I hear the words of today’s Gospel I am reminded not to judge, which is not easy. We seem to spend our days judging people or at least forming an opinion on them. We compare ourselves with others. I recall a time when I complained about someone’s accent, saying I could hardly understand them. Me! A Scot living in England who has to remember to speak slowly and try to remember to pronounce my words clearly; because I know some people struggle to understand me.

The second reading today is a continuation of St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians; in the part used today we are reminded that Jesus conquered the grave and shares his victory with us. He encourages us to keep working for Jesus, never to give in. This reminds us that we have an end goal greater than anything any coach can deliver on the sports field, greater than any profit any Corporation can deliver to their shareholders and greater than any victory that can be achieved on a battlefield. Our end goal is to be with Jesus forever and as St Paul says we know “that in the Lord, you can never be labouring in vain.

Further Reading

Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)2

CCC 2563: the heart is the home of truth
CCC 1755-1756: good acts and evil acts
CCC 1783-1794: forming conscience and decision-making
CCC 2690: spiritual direction
CCC 1009-1013: Christian view of death

Please keep in your prayers

  • The Ukrainian and Russian people, may they be able to live in peace.
  • Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
  • The Year of the Eucharist, that this will lead to a fresh outpouring of love by the people of God for the Body and Blood of Christ.
  • The listening stage of the 16th Synod of Bishops which is entitled “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission” that all Catholics will take part.
  • Oscar and Logan who are being baptised in St Bede’s this weekend.
  • Those preparing for and attending the Big Picture sessions on Mondays.
  • Those attending the RCIA course at St Bede’s on Wednesdays.

1 Ukraine crisis: Pope Francis calls for global day of fasting for peace on Ash Wednesday | Catholic News Agency

2 Catechism of the Catholic Church (vatican.va)