Monday, March 1, 2010

On judging others (2nd Week of Lent, Luke 6:36-38)

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”

* * * * * * *

Our life is a constant exercise in judgment: in distinguishing what is good from what is bad, in deciding which course of action we would like to take, in discerning which kind of life we wish to create for ourselves. From the day we are born to our last breath, we judge. It’s the way of life and survival. Hence, Jesus’ exhortation in today’s gospel reading, that we should not judge, must not be understood to mean that every process of discernment should be abandoned. If it did, our lives would fall into chaos.

Rather, he should be understood to mean that if we do judge, especially our brothers or sisters, we should see to it that the measure by which we gauge their acceptability is the same measure we would use on ourselves.

There are occasions when we do tend to be too demanding of others while too lax and undemanding of ourselves. That would not only be unfair in Jesus’ mind, it would also be hypocritical. For a hypocrite is one who judges himself with a standard far lower than what he would use in judging others. And this is a very grave danger, not only to one’s faith, but to the very integrity of one’s character. Justice and fairness after all, are the measure by which we shall all be judged in the end.

"The Kingdom of Heaven is a condition of the heart." (Friedrich Nietzsche)