I often marvel, as I pull slivers of wood or metal from my husband’s hands after one of his projects, how much a small splinter can hurt and how deep it can lodge itself. Something so insignificant and tiny can cause so much pain. Jesus’ words in the Gospel reading today are especially challenging as we strive to keep joy and love alive in our hearts. While we are called to exercise good judgment and hold ourselves and others to a higher standard, God alone is the ultimate judge of others’ lives, not us. Words are like splinters of the heart—once spoken they can wound deeply and painfully. Thus we should be especially careful when tempted to be judgmental.

Reflect upon today’s Gospel and ask yourself: what planks do I need to remove from my own eyes before I am tempted “to remove the splinter” from my brother’s or sister’s eye?

—Julianne Stanz is a speaker, writer and mother of three, originally from Ireland. She currently serves as Director of the New Evangelization for the Diocese of Green Bay, WI.