“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” – Mother Teresa
(Lk 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.”
Today’s readings revolve around the theme of judgment. Jesus tells us the measure by which we judge others shall be used against us. We are to use caution in how we think about others, how we forgive others, and to use care if we condemn others’ actions. This seems to be fairly straightforward, but nearly impossible to follow.
It is only human nature to look upon others and compare them to ourselves, to measure ourselves against those around us. Many times I find myself falling into this trap. How do I measure up against someone else? Am I better or worse than that person? We can’t help but observe others and make comparisons. Comparisons, though, are not always a bad thing. Its fruits or detrimental impact really comes down to motivation. What is it that is motivating us when looking at others? Is it to become a better person, or is it to prop ourselves up?
More times than not in my life, after sinning, I will console myself by looking at the actions of others. I think to myself that my actions are really not that bad in comparison to what someone else might be doing or has done. Therefore, what I did really isn’t that bad. That’s where comparisons can go wrong. If, however, we look at the life of a saint or a holy person we know, and that example drives us to try to become more truly the type of man or woman God wants us to be, then that comparison is a good thing. It can help us to see what we can do to live out the Gospel more effectively than before. This requires real introspection. If our self-examination is driven by our love of self, then we are doomed to always make these bad comparisons: relativistic judgments that will never cause us to make change for the better. We will forever remain in our ruts of sin. But when it is driven by our love of God, not of ourselves, then we can make real change.
This requires turning to God through the sacraments, especially Reconciliation. We have the opportunity now during this season of Lent to embrace the compassion of God by utilizing confession. It is up to us whether we want to take him up on his offer of forgiveness. With a more truly critical self-examination, we will better be able to follow Jesus's simple words of not judging others, and strive to become better people.
Jesus has shown us the way, and the saints have shown us it is possible. Let us pray during this second week of Lent for the saints’ intercession to have the strength to take a hard look at our lives, to take steps to become better people for God, and to look at ourselves using His standards, not the standard of others.