O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
God our saviour,
look on this wounded world
in pity and in power;
hold us fast to your promises of peace
won for us by your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Happy the nation whose God is the Lord
and the people he has chosen for his own.
The Lord looks down from heaven
and beholds all the children of earth.
From where he sits enthroned he turns his gaze
on all who dwell on the earth.
He fashions all the hearts of them
and understands all their works.
No king is saved by the might of his host;
no warrior delivered by his great strength.
A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
for all its strength it cannot save.
Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon those who fear him,
on those who wait in hope for his steadfast love,
To deliver their soul from death
and to feed them in time of famine.
Our soul waits longingly for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
Indeed, our heart rejoices in him;
in his holy name have we put our trust.
Let your loving-kindness, O Lord, be upon us,
as we have set our hope on you.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgement you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbour, “Let me take the speck out of your eye”, while the log is 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.’
First take the log out of your own eye.
The majority of us struggle with our human weakness, both physical and intellectual. From birth we have been encouraged to develop a shield around ourselves, a shield that shows everyone just how strong we are. As we grow into adulthood our certainty hardens until we emerge as fully-fledged adults with unmoveable opinions on almost everything. In effect, we grow into people who do not only think that we know better than those amongst whom we live out our daily lives, but also into people who believe we know better than God.
From the moral high ground upon which we position ourselves, we soon turn to criticizing. We look at others and see ‘difference’ as a cause for criticism and castigation. We judge others by our own standards. We put ourselves in the place of God. Even the most faithful of Christians are ensnared in this way. Their fixed views on what it means to be a ‘Christian’ become weaponised, a stick with which they beat others. Their beliefs and preferences cause Church communities to become set in concrete, a substance which is hard and unrelenting.
In today’s reading Jesus is cautioning us against this attitude. Jesus is telling us not to set ourselves up as judges over the behaviours and opinions of others. He is reminding us that while we may think that our ways and words are without fault and blemish, God may well be viewing us in a very different light.
On so many occasions, those who gather in churches for worship are a divided community. Every person sitting in the pews considers themselves to be faithful followers of Christ and yet, so often, they are harbouring thoughts of anger, criticism or resentment. They are judging others to be inadequate whilst congratulating themselves for their piety and devotion. This is the very attitude Jesus is cautioning against today.
I pray that we might set aside the pride of self-regard and seek God’s forgiveness for our many faults and failings. I pray that we might stop setting ourselves up as judge and jury in respect of our neighbours. I pray that we might worship God in true purity of heart.
Prayers of intercession
In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray to the Father.
O God, the creator and preserver of all, we pray for people in every kind of need; make your ways known on earth, your saving health among all nations.
We pray for the good estate of the catholic Church; guide and govern us by your good Spirit, that all who profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace and in righteousness of life.
We commend to your fatherly goodness all those who are any ways afflicted or distressed, in mind, body or estate; comfort and relieve them in their need, give them patience in their sufferings, and bring good out of all their afflictions.
We remember those who have gone before us in the peace of Christ, and we give you praise for all your faithful ones, with whom we rejoice in the communion of saints.
All this we ask for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.
Prayer for the week
Lord of all,
inspired by your word and your love,
your apostles preached the good news to all people.
Strengthen us to be apostles in our own lives,
that through the goodness of our actions,
the thoughtfulness of our faith
and the quality of our common life,
many might come to know the joy of life with you,
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.