When I hear today’s Gospel reading, I think about my dad. When he was alive, he was a guy who seemed to know everyone. Anywhere we went, he’d find someone he knew, even on vacation! But he wouldn’t just know their names, he’d also know something about them. He would know their talents, stuff they were good at; he’d also sometimes know if they were going through some kind of difficulty or hard time. But most often, he always was able to see what was good in them.
That’s the kind of thing I think Jesus wants us to do in our Gospel reading. He wants us to know each other as brothers and sisters, instead of seeing everyone’s faults and sins and downfalls. Because we all have those things. And if we focus on them, we’ll never be the children of God we were created to be. He uses the hyperbole of seeing a splinter in the other person’s eye but missing the wooden beam in our own. We all have sins and downfalls, but we all have grace and blessing. We’ve got to look for that, look for the best in people, because that’s what makes us children of God.
Fourteen years ago today, right around this time in the morning, I was in my room in seminary. Most of the other guys in my class had a class at that time, but I didn’t. So I was working on some homework, and then decided to go online and read some of the news. The first headline I saw said something like “Airplane Collides with World Trade Center.” I turned on the television and saw the tower down, and thought it had to be some kind of horrible accident. Then I saw the second plane fly into the second tower, and at that point everyone knew something terrible was happening. I will never forget that horrible moment.
Over the course of the following days, we came to know that over three thousand people died that day, including many police and fire fighters. And our world has changed a lot ever since: there is more security when you get on an airplane, more security everywhere, it seems. And if we would listen to what Jesus is telling us today, maybe things like this wouldn’t have to happen.
Even this week, a Sikh man was attacked right near here in Darien, because the attacker thought he was a terrorist. We have to learn to take the wooden beams out of our eyes so that we can see each other as brothers and sisters. Only then will we become everything that God intends for us.
Today on this fourteenth anniversary of 9-11, we should do a lot of things. We should study what happened that day so that we won’t repeat the mistakes that were made. We should remember those who gave their lives that day, especially those who tried to help the victims, and we should pray for ourselves and all people that we can become peaceful people who love the Lord and see each other as brothers and sisters, without all those splinters or beams in our eyes.