Readings: 2 Kings 17:5-8,13-15a, 18; Matthew 7:1-5
Jesus said to his disciples, “Stop judging so you will not be judged.”
This is the teaching of Jesus that we all wrestle with, that none of us can master. I often celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation in any given week and whether it’s penitents coming to me, or myself repenting to my confessor, this always seems to come up. My intuition tells me that I can grow into not judging while my experience suggests that it will take me an eternity with God to achieve it. Often it’s not a question of giving someone a tongue-lashing (though that happens too!) but what goes on in our minds. It might even be accurate to say, what traps us in our minds, our prejudices, in our cognitive processes. Even if I don’t spill the judgment on anyone, even if I don’t share it with anyone, God knows, I feel the toxin in my system, eating away at me.
Perhaps failure is as important as “success” in this matter. Why would I say that?
For one, my failure at being non-judgmental reminds me that following Christ is not a check-list of chores that insures my good reputation. Disciples of Christ are necessarily sinners trying to turn back to him, walk closer to Christ and I’ll always appear to be a sinner if I take that track.
Then, too, acknowledging when I’ve been judgmental and that it’s been helpful to no one–and perhaps even apologizing in the process–has already made the world a better place and allowed the Kingdom of God to break in.
My frustration with myself could also push me to recognize that I’m in no position to judge: that I’d have to be God to know all the facts, all the context, all the circumstances to adequately judge–which is why I shouldn’t judge in the first place and trust God to do so, as God sees fit.
Then there’s God’s mercy. Every time I repent and receive God’s mercy, isn’t a little more of that toxin of judgmentalism neutralized and healed?
Here’s a thought from the Jesuit, Gregory Boyle, that hit me right between the eyes. He’s reflecting on a verse from the Acts of the Apostles: And awe overcame everyone. “It would seem that, quite possibly, the ultimate measure of health in any community might well reside in our ability to stand in awe at what folks have to carry rather than in judgment of how they carry it.” (from Gregory Boyle, S.J., Barking at the Choir)