“I am the king’s servant, but the Lord’s first” ~ Saint Thomas More
“Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.”
These are the sobering words from Jesus that kick off today’s Gospel (Matthew 7:1-5), a tough teaching amidst a series of tough teachings, courtesy of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount from which we’ve been reading for the last week or so. Hypocrisy for instance was discussed this past Wednesday, something that many of us struggle with https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Tackling-the-Vice-of-Hypocrisy . Humility was our reflection point the day before on Tuesday. https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/On-Humility-and-Nobility
But back to this far-too-easy foible of incessantly judging others, noticing “the splinter in our brother’s eye, but not perceiving the wooden beam in our own eye,” as Jesus so colorfully explains it.
Fact is, it’s not enough to merely refrain from judging others, something we must avoid for obvious reasons. Jesus didn’t come to condemn us for our sin or saddle us with shame. Instead he came to free us from our sin. To “go forth and sin no more“ as he told the woman who was caught in the adulterous affair and in the verge of being stoned (John 8:11).
But Christians are also called to live a life steeped in the truth. We’re reminded of that today as we reflect upon the men whose Feast Day we celebrate, Saint John Fisher and Saint Thomas More. As today’s Daily Mass Entrance Antiphon proclaims, these were holy men who shed their glorious blood for the Lord; they loved Christ in their life, they imitated him in their death, and therefore were crowned in triumph. Those familiar with the fate of these unflinching martyrs know that they were beheaded at the hands of King Henry VIII due to their unwavering support and belief in the indissolubility of marriage.
Largely considered the greatest Englishman of his generation, Saint Thomas More was a devoted family man who served the English crown faithfully both at home and abroad. But as the quote which kicks off today’s reflection indicates, he always made it clear who the Lord of his life was. He was known to have charmed his many friends with an effervescent and engaging personality while publishing numerous scholarly works, the vast majority of which are still drawn upon today. Yet if you were to comb through these works, page by page and word by word, never once did he pass judgement on any of his detractors. The truth however, God’s truth, was always front and center. About that he was uncompromising.
So how can we live a judgement-free yet truth-filled life in a world which, in large part, is no longer interested in the truth? For that matter, how can we avoid being speedily judged by others when the topic turns to abortion, traditional marriage or transgenderism? Those who hold true to the Catholic teachings as it relates to these hot button topics are oftentimes swiftly branded as being anti-woman, homophobic and hateful. With regard to the latter, should we even care? I strongly tend towards “no” in all honesty. It is wise however to ready ourselves for the vitriol and prejudice. As Saint Thomas More points out, “anticipated spears wound less.”
It is absolutely essential to keep a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church handy. Naturally we cannot live the truth unless we know the truth; every aspect and facet of the truth. “Many are schooled but few are educated,” Saint Thomas More would oftentimes lament, and the Cathecism, a comprehensive guide to our Lord’s unchanging and everlasting truth, is the key that unlocks the door to our education. This education will in turn allow us to grow in the spiritual gifts of knowledge and counsel.
The Gospels, a genuine understanding of the Gospels, will also lead us down the path to truth. I emphasize that this understanding must be genuine because the age of Social Media has ushered in an era of great confusion, wherein Jesus’ words are often twisted, misrepresented, or taken grossly out of context. This problem will only grow in magnitude, placing a greater onus on each and every one of us to sort out what is truth and what is self-serving or simply dishonest.
These are but two valuable weapons at our disposal in our search for the unadulterated, non-judgmental truth of our Lord Jesus Christ. We must turn to them as often as necessary in order to insure that we hear Jesus’ voice amidst the unending noise that permeates our world. On that note, lest we forget the great Bishop turned martyr Saint John Fisher who shares this Day with Saint Thomas More as I leave you with his thoughts on discerning the voice of our Lord:
“A good man is not a perfect man; a good man is an honest man, faithful and unhesitatingly responsive to the voice of God in his life.”
Saints John Fisher and Thomas More, pray for us….