( A commentary on Matthew 7: 1-5 )
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7: 1-5)
In the sunset of our lives, God will ask us how much we loved others, how much we gave of ourselves, how much we were able to overcome our own egoism and leave behind our egocentrism in order to transform the lives of others, how much we exploited the capacity to love that each one of us has received.
Two of the most pronounced hallmarks of a true Christian life are love and compassion.
Yet, those two hallmarks are too often obscured by a flaw that is far too often seen by those who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ.
Too often we decide that we are the ones who declare what the standards of God are. Too often we fall into this trap where we think we are God’s vigilantes. We will be the ones to judge the words and actions of others.
Today. Jesus tells us as plainly as can be: “Stop judging that you may not be judged,” promising us that “as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.” He is communicating to us that our receptivity, our openness, to his grace is dependent on the way we treat others. For us to receive the love of God, in other words, we must be opened through loving our neighbor. For us to receive God’s mercy, we must be merciful. The truer is that we can’t be truly merciful unless we stop judging our brothers and sisters.
Jesus forbids us to judge people. We must leave that to God, because while we can see externally whether their action conforms or not to what God has taught us or in conscience, we know to be good or evil, we can’t judge the agents, since we can never know everything that is going on inside of them.
Instead of judging our neighbor, Jesus wants us to love our neighbor and show mercy to our neighbor. To do that, he tells us, we need humbly to recognize that often the temptation to judge our neighbor comes from a desire to deflect the attention from our own thoughts, behavior and sins. He says, “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 eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye?
Jesus recognizes that many times we judge our neighbor as a superior to an inferior, failing to grasp that we ourselves are sinners, too. He wants us to adopt a totally different perspective: when we see our neighbor’s errant behavior, to use it as an opportunity to examine our own, because often we’re guilty of similar behavior. Compulsive judgmentalism distorts our perception and hardens our hearts. He wants us to take out our own planks. Once our planks are gone, then we can start to see with the eyes of faith, the eyes of mercy, the eyes of charity.
Prayer of The Day
“Dear Lord, I pray for humility and meekness. Help me to free myself of all manner of pride and being judgmental. Help me to see and judge others in the way You want me to see them.”
Jesus wants to help us to see clearly so that from there we can really love and help our brothers and sisters, especially when they need it. Once our planks our removed — once we recognize that we, too, are sinners who have needed to be forgiven by God — that we can with humility share the mercy we’ve received with others, helping them to see that their vision may be distorted, helping them to correct behavior when it is choosing darkness rather than the light. After we’ve seen our own sins and weaknesses, we’re able to help our neighbor not as an enemy seeking revenge, but as a doctor applying a cure, in many cases the same medicine we’ve needed and received from God. The Pharisees used to criticize harshly from above. Jesus wants us to measure out the measure of mercy we’ve received from God.