DO NOT JUDGE!
(1 Cor 4:1-5; Luke 5:33-39 )
The first reading from St. Paul to the Corinthians today really caught my attention. Facing the judgment, perhaps a biased judgment from different people from Corinth, he was correct in his response to them. He wrote:
“It does not concern me in the least
that I be judged by you or any human tribunal;
I do not even pass judgment on myself;
I am not conscious of anything against me,
but I do not thereby stand acquitted;
the one who judges me is the Lord.
This reminds us of what Jesus teaches in Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” and in Luke 6:37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Ultimately, we are in the same boat with all our fellow human beings. We all have weaknesses and fallings. We are all in the position of being judged by God. That is why it is not our job to judge the heart of anyone.
When someone is ordained to the priesthood, he often chooses a verse from the Bible and puts it in the holy card as a reminder of what he wants to live up to. As for me, I chose John 8:7 from the story about a woman who was caught committing adultery. She was dragged to Jesus by those who thought they were better or more righteous than her. They tried to push Jesus to condemn her. And the answer that Jesus gave them is the verse that I intentionally chose for myself to live my priesthood. That verse goes: “If any one of you is without sin, let that one be the first to throw a stone at her.” They wanted Jesus to throw a stone at this poor sinner, but Jesus threw a stone at their conscience. Good for them that they finally recognized their appropriate position and left her alone. Please kindly pray for me to remember not to judge others.
St. Paul really gets it right when he writes the following: “…the one who judges me is the Lord. Therefore, do not make any judgment before the appointed time, until the Lord comes, for he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will manifest the motives of our hearts…” I really think that we should learn this wise attitude from St. Paul.
Just one side note: We are not speaking of making judgment about what is right or wrong because we need to do so in order to conduct our lives well. We are speaking of judging the heart or motivation in the heart of someone. There are at least 2 reasons why we should wait until the “appointed time” and not pass judgment on ourselves or others. First, many contemporary theologians attribute the ‘appointed time’ to the moment of resurrection. We are still in the process of becoming who we fully are. Only when we reach the resurrection do we have a whole picture of our life. Only then do we have the correct answer to our judgment. Second, we should not pass judgment on others because we can never thoroughly grasp the depth of a human heart. Only God can.
As we continue to walk our journey, let us imitate St. Paul in this matter. In my experience, when I let go of judging myself and others, I become more tolerant, loving, sympathetic, peaceful and free. May God help us all.