Recovering “Holy Hannah”

Memorial of Saint Peter Claver, Priest

First Reading: 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22B-27

Brothers and sisters:
If I preach the Gospel, this is no reason for me to boast,
for an obligation has been imposed on me,
and woe to me if I do not preach it!
If I do so willingly, I have a recompense,
but if unwillingly, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship.
What then is my recompense?
That, when I preach, I offer the Gospel free of charge
so as not to make full use of my right in the Gospel.

Although I am free in regard to all,
I have made myself a slave to all
so as to win over as many as possible.
I have become all things to all, to save at least some.
All this I do for the sake of the Gospel,
so that I too may have a share in it.

Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race,
but only one wins the prize?
Run so as to win.
Every athlete exercises discipline in every way.
They do it to win a perishable crown,
but we an imperishable one.
Thus I do not run aimlessly;
I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing.
No, I drive my body and train it,
for fear that, after having preached to others,
I myself should be disqualified.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 84:3, 4, 5-6, 12

R. (2) How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!
My soul yearns and pines
for the courts of the LORD.
My heart and my flesh
cry out for the living God.
R. How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!
Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest
in which she puts her young—
Your altars, O LORD of hosts,
my king and my God!
R. How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!
Blessed they who dwell in your house!
continually they praise you.
Blessed the men whose strength you are!
their hearts are set upon the pilgrimage.
R. How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!
For a sun and a shield is the LORD God;
grace and glory he bestows;
The LORD withholds no good thing
from those who walk in sincerity.
R. How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!

Gospel: Luke 6:39-42

Jesus told his disciples a parable:
“Can a blind person guide a blind person?
Will not both fall into a pit?
No disciple is superior to the teacher;
but when fully trained,
every disciple will be like his teacher.
Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye,
but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?
How can you say to your brother,
‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’
when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye?
You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first;
then you will see clearly
to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.”


sept 9

I battled a terrible habit for years in my early marriage. I am what you might term a recovering “Holy Hannah.” That is to say, that I would present one side of my life to people and then judge them and their choices behind their back. If I thought the grievance was bad enough, I would even point it out to them, suggesting ways to help them but always under the cover of “fraternal correction.”

Today’s readings brought forth a flood of memories for me from my early years as a wife and mother. It hit way too close to home. I instantly felt such sadness over the lost friendships and awkward moments that the wooden plank in my eye caused me then.

Everything came to a head one day when the tables were turned and someone close to me, pointed out my splinter. I was aghast, insulted, and deeply hurt. I ended my friendship with this woman then and there and was despondent over the humiliation and rejection I had just suffered. Forgetting that I had been acting in the same vein for years, Holy Hannah was not going down without a fight. I discussed it with my husband that night and he simply said, “Maybe you should figure out your own life before telling others what to do with theirs.” I was stunned. I had no idea that he felt that way and it really set me back.

I spent the next several months on a kind of spiritual journey, looking into my heart, working through the reasons I had arrived in this horrible place of judgment and non-acceptance of others. What I discovered about myself was not pretty. I had allowed my own fear of being rejected to take over and crowd out my empathy and acceptance of others in all their uniqueness. It took some time for me to turn things around. Years actually. I fell on my face more times than I care to admit, but I thank God every day for His patience with me during that time.

I have learned that giving in to fear leads me away from God. It creates tunnel-vision within my heart and takes away my ability to see clearly and celebrate those willing to bear their true selves to the world without fear or hesitation. Today I no longer point out the splinters in others because I am still chipping away at my own plank. I have discovered that God loves me just as I am and there is no need to be unkind to others in order to make myself feel better. I no longer desire to stand above others, but now seek to encourage and accompany my sisters in Christ as we run together toward Heaven in all its glory.

I no longer point out the splinters in others because I am still chipping away at my own plank. Click To Tweet

Is there someone in your life that needs encouragement instead of judgment? Reach out to them and let them know they are not alone in this journey.

photo credit

Mary Lenaburg married her first (and only) blind date going on 28 years, is a full-time liturgist, and parents one adult son navigating his path on earth and a special needs daughter safely in Heaven. You can find out more about her here.

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