Today we honour the memory of Saint Alban, the first Christian to shed his blood for Christ in England. Saint Bede – the author of The Ecclesiastical History of the English People – tells us that Alban was converted to Christianity by a persecuted priest whom he sheltered from the Roman authorities. Alban was arrested for assisting the priest and was beheaded after refusing to abandon his faith. We ask Saint Alban’s intercession and protection for the Church in England, that we may all be faithful and fruitful in the practice of the faith for which this martyr sacrificed his life.
We all know what it’s like when we get a speck of dust in our eye. It hurts, and even though we know we shouldn’t do it, our first impulse is to squeeze our eye shut and rub it vigorously to try to clear out the irritating particle.
Our Lord compares this experience to sin and the way we judge others. It hurts when we have something in our eye, and our vision is obscured for a time, we can’t see clearly until the offending object is removed. In a similar way, our sins can make it hard for us to look at another person with compassion. But once the object is out of our eye—once we have repented and been reconciled with God—we are able to see other people more clearly. We all know the pain and suffering caused by our own sin, and the experience helps us to be a little more compassionate. That’s why Our Lord admonishes us to stop judging and to look on each other with kindness.
This is why the daily examination of conscience is so important. When we have received God’s mercy in our own weakness, we are moved to share it with other people. We begin to understand their own struggles and we offer them the mercy that we have received.