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Judging Like Jesus Does
Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious
Jesus said to his disciples: “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. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, you know human nature so well! Bless me as I reflect on your words so that I may be a messenger of your mercy, not of judgment.
- Stop Judging: Jesus’s command was pretty clear in this passage—in one sense. Rash judgment and criticism of others is a sin, one that can easily become a habitual pattern of mind and speech. It is this tendency Jesus warns us against here. Why is it that, in an emotional encounter, it can be a lot easier to criticize someone than to stay silent or praise them? Jesus said, “A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). We need to form our hearts to look at the positive in life’s circumstances! As St. Maximilian Kolbe says, “Do not criticize! To speak only of the faults of others does not represent total reality, for every man, in addition to his faults, also has virtues, a good side.”
- Judging Has Consequences: Did you ever notice that when you smile at a stranger, he or she has a tendency to smile back? A small sliver of heavenly joy has been shared between two souls. Unfortunately, however, when we adopt a critical caustic tone toward others, they tend to respond with the same tone, and no joy has been exchanged. Perhaps blinded by the wooden beam in our own eye, we have closed ourselves off to a sharing of goodness by judging the other. What we fail to notice is the presence of a divine spark in that person. Jesus is there, even if they’re not aware of it. A harsh word spoken against our brother or sister is spoken against Christ.
- Removing His Splinter: Jesus calls us to live virtuous lives (to extract the beam from our own eyes) so that we can prayerfully judge the actions of others. How else are we to remove the splinter from our brother’s eye? Once we have identified the beam in our own eye and realized our complete dependence on God for the grace to reform, we are ready, with great charity, to identify a splinter in another’s eye and strive to help remove it as an act of familial love.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, over and over again you call me to recognize my sinful nature, the beam in my eye, and turn to you for mercy and forgiveness. Then, full of love and gratitude for the freedom I have been given to live as a child of the Father, humbled not hypocritical, I am prepared to approach others as an extension of your mercy and invite them to turn away from sin. This loving fraternal correction bears no resemblance to criticism or rash judgment that stems from a hardened heart.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will examine myself for “beams” that blind me from seeing your presence in my brother or sister.
For Further Reflection: “…Don’t pass so final a judgement. Have pity in your heart and don’t forget that he may yet be an Augustine, while you remain just another mediocrity (St. Josemaria Escriva).
Written by Maribeth Harper.