Sunday, February 24, 2019
Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
“Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37
Do you judge others? Judging another is an easy thing to do. Sometimes we can meet a person and immediately arrive at some form of judgment. Perhaps they are not as friendly as we think they should be at first and, as a result, we offer a judgment of them right away. Of course this can happen at times, even before we meet the person. Or, it can also happen in relationships that we’ve had for a long time.
Do you condemn others? Condemnation comes in two forms. First, either we have formed a false judgment of another and this results in a false condemnation. Second, we can judge a situation correctly, that this person is guilty of some sin, and we act as though we have a right to condemn. We act as if we have a right to issue a sentence upon them.
Both judging and condemning are far from Christian virtues. They are not healthy or holy in any way. So, the way they are overcome is through mercy and forgiveness.
Do you forgive? Forgiveness is hard to do most of the time. It must be offered in the light of our tendencies to both judge and condemn another. First of all, forgiveness cures the tendency to condemn because it acknowledges a fault and forgives it anyway without requiring the imposition of a “punishment,” so to speak, upon the offender. Forgiveness does not mean that the offense was OK or nonexistent. On the contrary, forgiveness in this case clearly sees a sin for what it is. But once acknowledged, it forgives that sin. This is very important when it comes to forgiving in a close relationship. It’s never healthy to pretend that some hurt or sin never happened, but it’s always healthy to forgive the sin that is present.
When it comes to judgment, forgiveness goes even further than forgiving a sin. Forgiveness must also move us to a point where we do not even form a judgment as to another’s fault. We suspend judgment. This is especially seen in the statement of Jesus on the Cross when He said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” He didn’t even allow Himself to arrive at the judgment of those who were condemning Him to death. He did not hold anything against them and presumed the best in regard to their intentions. “They know not what they do.” This requires a great depth of love and mercy.
Reflect, today, upon your own ability to forgive completely. Start by letting go of the condemnation of another’s sin. Then try to let our Lord bring you one step closer to His perfect merciful heart by letting go even of judgment. Let God be the judge. For your part, seek only to forgive.
Lord, help me to forgive all who have offended me and all with whom I am angry. Free me from the burdens of condemnation and judgment and replace these tendencies with Your merciful heart. May I imitate Your perfect forgiveness in my life. Jesus, I trust in You.