I hate to think how many times I have caught myself judging others. I usually do this when someone does something I don’t like or says something with which I disagree. I suppose it is human nature, but that can’t be my excuse. Human beings are supposed to have intelligence too. It is very clear, from the mouth of Our Lord, that I should not judge the words and actions of others.
The usual Scripture passage that comes to mind when I catch myself in the act consists of the words of Jesus in Mat 7:1, which reads “Judge not lest ye be judged.” This thought was once again conveyed at Mass this past Monday, in the opening line of the Gospel that was read. But then, I was reminded that this wasn’t all that Jesus had to say on the subject. The full Gospel passage read at this Mass was Mat 7:1-5 and includes these words of Jesus: “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘let me remove that splinter from your own eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your own eye. You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your own eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.”
What I am noticing about my brother is a mere splinter compared to that wooden beam that is in my own eye! It sounds like it is time for an examination of conscience, a confession of my sins, and that firm purpose of amendment that must follow. It is the famous error of a hypocrite. How can I judge others when what I am feeling and doing is much worse. Sounds like another lesson in humility. The Scriptures seems to be full of these lessons.
This reminds me, too, of the words of Jesus in John 8: 7, when the scribes and Pharisees caught a woman in the act of committing adultery. They brought the woman to Jesus to test him, reminding him that the law says that this woman must be stoned. Jesus responded by saying “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Ah, yes … that wooden beam in my own eye. I must get rid of that first before throwing a stone.
Lord, please help me to not judge others. Help me to get rid of the wooden beam so that I can see clearly. Amen.