We can only give what we have first received. As radios and television sets can only broadcast new, music, and movies because they have first received a signal, so also we can only give what we have first received.
We can only live because we have first been given life. For which of you has chosen to be born? We can only love because we first have been loved. We can only forgive because we have first been forgiven. We can only give because we have first been given to. We are spiritual radios, spiritual television sets. Really spirituality is all about receiving and receiving the right things.
And so our Lord promises: "Be merciful as your Father in heaven is merciful." For he has been merciful. He has forgiven. He has loved. He has judged and condemned. He has done all this in the person and work of His Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. In Jesus and His cross: sin, death, and the devil are judged and condemned. In Jesus and His cross: the mercy and love of your heavenly Father is made evident. And Jesus gives it all for you to receive in Holy Absolution, Holy Baptism, and the Lord's Supper--in Word and in Sacrament. And by it you are forgiven. You have life. You are saved. For you can only give what you have first received. You can only teach what you have first learned. No student is above his teacher. The blind can't lead the blind. The empty can't fill up the empty. You can only give what you have received. And you have received and still receive much, haven't you?
But what have you given? Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Why do you point out all their faults, all their foibles, all their blemishes? Why do you pick and poke and prod all the little things about everyone else, but refuse you look at yourself, refuse to consider your blemishes, your faults? Why do you hold everyone else to a higher standard than you hold yourself? When they are in the wrong, you demand apologies and penance. But when you are in the wrong, the best confession you can give is "Well we're only human? Everyone makes mistakes."
And actually it's worse than that isn't? The foibles and faults, the specks that we see in others, aren't they done at our . We know other's weaknesses. And so we set out to see them fall into temptation at our bidding, at our prodding. We bait them. We go looking for a way to make them look bad so that we will look good. We know just what to say, just what to write, just what look to give so to bring out the worst in others. And not just others, are they, these are people we love. People we care about. We provoke them to anger, to jealousy, to fear. We provoke them to sin.
"You hypocrite," you actor, for that is what hypocrite means, "first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye." Consider your life--your words, your deeds--and confess. Repent. Be like your teacher. Receive the cross, be crucified, be killed, with all sin and evil desire. For in death you receive life. And in confession, you receive forgiveness. In emptying yourself you shall be filled.
You are filled with the Holy Spirit, through the Word, through the sacraments. You have received all the gifts of the Spirit, patience, kindness, self-control, etc.
And having received, so now give. Give as you have received. For no student is above his teacher, but just like him once fully trained. Let the holy things of God that fill your cup, run over upon all those around you. Subordinate yourself and your needs to theirs. Place them above you. Pray for them. Offer help and guidance. Visit them when they are sick. Feed them when they are hungry. Show hospitality. In short, Love them. For love covers a multitude of sin. It is what covered yours.