If you want to avoid judgment, stop passing judgment (Mt. 7:1)
Each season has its own colors. This year, strangely, they reminded me of the changeableness of human nature and the ridiculousness of the judgments we tend to make about others. We have all experienced the results of having the tables turned. How often have we had someone praise, as an act of genuine concern and charity, something designed solely to inflate our flagging egos? Or how many times have we criticized someone for something they said and found out later our hearing was at fault instead? Many comedies on stage and screen have been based on such exaggerated and mistaken judgments. Consider one: the ecstatic cook who, after being complimented on a nauseating dish, obligingly fills, with more of the same, the plate of the one who complimented her! Jesus suffered some of these same judgmental attitudes; so did his friend John the Baptist. Jesus was too frivolous—he drank at weddings and, at one, even made the wine flow; John on the other hand was too ascetic. Jesus was too gentle with the woman caught in adultery; John was too violent in his lifestyle and so on. Note, these judgments usually were not made by strangers. Jesus wryly commented once that prophets, as a rule, do not receive honor among their own people. He went so far as to say, in his own case, that it was impossible to work miracles in his home territory because of this lack of faith in his abilities. Can we say the same thing? Is the view of those who live with us so blind that they could not recognize a miracle even if we performed one for them? Contrarily, do “outsiders” consider us outstanding people? And what about our own behavior toward those with whom we live? Barring the genuine and necessary affirmation others need to survive, perhaps such jolts of erroneous judgment are requisite to bringing us to a conscious realization of how little we know of the human heart, including our own. They could be effective in changing us and encouraging us to leave the judgments to God.
Jesus, prevent me from seeing the speck in another’s eye and miss the one in my own.
–Sister Mary E. Penrose, OSB
|Sister Mary E. Penrose is a Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. She edits readings for the liturgical Hours and writes reflections for the Community. And she is a tutor for the African Sisters attending The College of St. Scholastica. She was editor of a journal, Spirit & Life, for 18 years.|