REFLECTION FOR TODAY
June 21, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
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?” Matt. 7:1-3
Being judgmental can be a difficult thing to shake. Once someone falls into the habit of regularly thinking and speaking in a harsh and critical way, it’s very difficult for them to change. In fact, once someone starts down the road of being critical and judgmental, chances are that they will continue down that road becoming more critical and more judgmental. This is one of the reasons Jesus addresses this tendency in such a strong way.
The tendency of being critical and judgmental is far more common than most of us would like to admit. We live in a world where it is very common to condemn, criticize and judge others. This growing secular tendency has powerfully influenced our thinking and actions today as Christians.
Why is it so easy to judge others? Why is it so easy to see the failures of others, dwell on their sin, point out their weaknesses and speak of their faults to others? Perhaps part of the reason is that many people are not at peace within their own souls. It is very unfortunate because, condemning others brings with it a certain twisted satisfaction. But it’s a “satisfaction” that will never satisfy. The desire to condemn, criticize and judge will only grow all the stronger the more these actions are committed. If you struggle with these sins, then listen to the words of Jesus. “Stop judging…”
Oftentimes the person who judges others does not even realize they are judging. For this reason, Jesus poses the question, “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?” If that stings even a little bit, then know that our Lord asks that question of you. And He asks it with deep love for you, desiring that you will hear Him, understand, and respond in a positive way.
As Christians, we must know that being judgmental of others causes more harm to the one who judges than to the one who is judged. Certainly, being judged is not pleasant. But the act of being judged by others is not a sin. However, the act of judging others is a sin. And it can be a grave sin. This sin leaves the one who judges with an empty and angry heart. Love is lost in the soul who judges.
If these words are unpleasant, then it is because we need to face the unpleasant truth to change. The Cross was unpleasant, but it was also the greatest act of love ever known. Facing our sin of judging others is unpleasant but doing so is the only way to be freed. Honesty with ourselves is an act of love given to God, to us and to those whom we need to stop judging.
Reflect, today, upon these challenging words from Jesus. Read the Scripture passage above a few times and then prayerfully ponder it. Use it as an examination of your own conscience. Try to be honest, humble, and attentive to any ways that Jesus speaks this to you. Some will find that they have grave tendencies toward being critical and judging. Others will see less serious ways. But everyone who lacks complete perfection will find some ways in which they need to be more compassionate, merciful, forgiving and understanding of others. Be open to these truths and allow our Lord to lift the heavy burden of this sin from your own life.
Lord, You and You alone are the true Judge. Only You judge with mercy and justice. Give me the grace I need to abandon my own self-righteous judgmentalness so that I will be free to love You and to love others with my whole heart. Free me from the burden of these sins, dear Lord, so that I can more easily see Your goodness in others and rejoice in Your presence in their lives. Jesus, I trust in You.