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DO NOT JUDGE

Father Francis's picture
First Week of Lent

Dan. 9:4-10 & Lk. 6: 31-38

Our first reading contains a most comprehensive national act of contrition which we can all make our own. It is the people who agreed to the covenant God proposed to them through Moses on Mount Sinai and it was the people who violated it by worshipping false gods. Now it is the people through Daniel who confess their national guilt, "We have sinned and done evil, we have rebelled and departed from Your commandments and Your laws. We have rebelled against You and paid no heed to Your command, O Lord, our God, to live by the law You gave us through your servants the prophets.” God I am sure was pleased with this national act of contrition.

We all have to make moral judgments about situations. So why does Jesus say, "Do not judge?" Obviously He is referring not to situations but to people.

He knows that when it comes to making an assessment of another person, we are not competent to judge. We do not have all the facts. Only God can see the complete picture. We may deeply disapprove of someone's behaviour, but only God knows the pressures or the fears which may have driven them to act in that way.

There was once a man who took a pride in his garden. One day he was sitting in his front room admiring his handiwork. Across the road he saw a man reeling from side to side. His first thought was, "He's had more than a cup of tea." Next moment, the man had banged open his front gate and was staggering all over his beautiful flower beds. He rushed outside and was ready to shake the life out of the man. Then he looked into his eyes and realised he was completely blind. Realising his mistake, he put his arm round his shoulders, brought him into the house and offered him a cup of tea. How true Jesus is when He says, "Do not judge." We don’t know all the facts.

When we set ourselves up as judges of other people it can make us harsh and censorious. We can feel superior to others, believing that we have the right to criticise what they do. Surely, there are few things more destructive than incessant criticism. Your employer constantly finds fault with your work; your husband is never satisfied with the way you run the house or cook the meals; your wife tells you you're hopeless at D. I. Y. You have tried your best, but it is never good enough. All this criticism undermines your confidence end you begin to feel worthless. None of us likes to be judged in this way, so we should try to avoid judging each other. We must, in Jesus' words, ‘Be compassionate, as our Father is compassionate.’ A little understanding and encouragement, giving credit where it is due, will bring out the best in people.

We can be sure that God judges each one of us compassionately. He will reward us according to the way in which we have behaved to other people. If we have been tolerant and forgiving, we shall receive His forgiveness. If we have been generous He will give us gifts and blessings. And if we have refrained from judging, He will be lenient in His judgment of us. So, "Do not judge, and you will not be judged yourselves."

Let St. James have the last word and these words are very encouraging to us. "There is to be no judgement for the one who is merciful."

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