October 3 – Tuesday of the Eighteenth Week after Pentecost (3rd of Luke) Luke 6:37-45
Producing Goodness: Luke 6:37-45, especially vs. 45: “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good: and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” The Lord Jesus sets his teachings in these nine verses between a pair of bookends. In verse 36, immediately prior, He admonishes us to “be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” He ends by declaring, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good” (vs. 45).
How do we produce good fruit such as mercy? As the Lord says, we must have abundance of good treasure in our heart (vs. 45). But how do we acquire a profusion of “good treasure”? Very simply, this treasure accrues to our heart when we submit ourselves to God: “Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful” (vs. 36).
Between these bookends, the Lord Jesus describes four specific actions, two negative and two positive (vss. 37-38). He then addresses the truly difficult struggle of changing the heart from evil to good so as to keep the commandments, which will bring forth good (vss. 39-44).
His four actions follow a reflexive pattern: the one who obeys shall receive the same in return from God our Father. If we do not judge, we shall not be judged by God. If we do not condemn, God will not condemn us. If we forgive, our Father will forgive us. If we give generously, our Father will lavish goodness upon us. Let us pay attention to the Lord’s pattern!
As for being judgmental and condemning, Saint Cyril of Alexandria calls the passion of busying ourselves with the affairs of others “very unmanageable . . . [and] the commencement and begetter of pride” (Homily 29, Commentary on the Gospel of Saint Luke, p. 137). This terrible illness begins when we forget our personal frailties and the abundant mercy of our Father in Heaven.
When we turn our attention outward, toward the actions and behavior of others, then we evade what lies in our own heart. The Church Fathers label such evasion as presumption. According to Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov, “One who presumes himself to be without passions will never be cleansed from the passions.”
Here is the heart of our Lord’s teaching which is to be found in Saint Luke’s Gospel: the way to change our hearts from evil to good. The great Healer of the passions prescribes turning inward, toward the condition of our own heart. There we find the source of our disorder, and no longer presume to lead the blind while we are blind and falling into the ditch (vs. 39).
The Lord Jesus commands, “First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly” (vs. 42). Our foremost need is repentance, which is the primary cure for the presumption that we are without passions, the remedy for spiritual blindness.
God, our gracious Father, sent His Son to call us to repentance. It is the precondition for seeing and hearing the Gospel (Mk 1:15). The Lord Jesus states forthrightly, “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Lk 13:3). According to Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov, “Repentance . . . has been commanded . . . by God Himself [and] . . . is essentially and logically necessary for the heart.”
What holds us back from repentance? The obstacle lies in our presumption that we do not need to repent. Submit to the Lord Jesus, listen to Him, heed His admonitions, and we shall not fall into the mad belief that we know better than He does.
“A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher” (vs. 6:40). Let us root our lives in His, “for a good tree does not bear bad fruit” (vs. 43). From Christ alone can we draw true life.
O Lord, be ever in me to the increase of virtue, and the keeping of Thy commandments. – Pre-communion Prayer of Saint Basil the Great