”Never judge another knight without first knowing the strength and cunning of the dragons he fights.” ~ Richelle E. Goodrich
“Stop judging,” Jesus commands his disciples as we embark on the beginning of the 7th Chapter of Matthew’s Gospel (7:1-5) on this the day our church celebrates the Memorial of the Patron Saint of Catholic youth, the great Aloysius Gonzaga. If this edict wasn’t challenging enough ~ who doesn’t like criticizing others? ~ he goes on to say something that should grab the attention of each one of us: “For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.”
Fact is, we will all clamor for Jesus’ mercy on our particular judgement day. That’s what makes celebrations such as Divine Mercy Sunday https://discover.hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Divine-Mercy-Sunday-But-First-a-Riddle and the recently-observed Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus https://discover.hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/The-Solemnity-of-the-Most-Sacred-Heart-of-Jesus so powerful. So vital. And if it’s mercy we crave, shouldn’t we too offer it whenever given the chance to our fellow members of Christ’s Mystical Body? “Extend your mercy towards others,” Saint Vincent de Paul would often say, “so that there can be no one in need whom you meet without helping. For what hope is there for us if God should withdraw His Mercy from us?”
Today’s passage also gives us the opportunity to honestly reflect upon whywe are so quick to judge others, what is it about their shortcomings that annoy us so? Jesus would seem to imply today that perhaps it is because their foibles remind us of a similar failing, or failings of our own. Or as author John Mark Green puts it, “The self-righteous scream judgments against others to hide the noise of skeletons dancing in their own closets.”
Jesus Himself oftentimes said throughout Scripture that he did not come to condemn the world, but instead to save it. This is made manifest in his numerous interactions with the many flawed people he encountered during his ministry. He had a unique knack for sifting through an individual’s sin while possessing the uncanny vision to see what that person could become as a result of their virtue. Jesus sees the whole picture, never ruminating on the flaws, always accentuating the elements of virtue that dwells within all of us. We are called to try and do the same.
Jesus always challenged and encouraged those he encountered to repent, to “go forth and sin no more” as he told the prostitute who was on the verge of being stoned to death. He does this out of love, never wanting to see us drown in our vice, pride and sin. He knows the price these disordered affections. Because he paid for them. He knows us far better than we know ourselves. Afterall, it was God the Father who breathed the gift of life into our very souls.
Empathy, mercy, sympathy... these are the traits of Jesus, traits we are called to emulate. We must always defend the truth, I must make that clear, but hatred and judgement have no place. Through the grace of our Lord, we can shed the blinders of haughtiness and hypocrisy. Saint Paul often taught that the grace we receive from God makes us “another Christ,” which as previously mentioned is the catalyst that allows us to go forth as Jesus did, in his very footsteps. The Saints are of course prime examples of this transformation in action. They knew that they needed Jesus’ help in removing the wooden beam from their eye before they could go forth and help those in their midst to remove the splinter from theirs.
May we all make great strides in moving past the shallowness, shortsightedness, and superficiality of judging others. For those with character know to judge themselves before they judge others, and those who possess true wisdom know that our life’s supreme pursuit is far more meaningful and critical than putting down others; it centers squarely on getting to know and serve the only just judge, our Lord Jesus Christ.
For he will one day come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. And his Kingdom, a Kingdom rooted in mercy and justice, will have no end.