Reading the gospel today I had a flashback to a funeral procession I was in sometime ago. The person in front of me had a poster-size statement plastered on the back of the vehicle. It was a statement with rooted anger and judgment behind it. I found myself wondering what kind of a person would put this on their vehicle. And more specifically, what does this say about the driver of this vehicle? The only answers I could find were anger and judgment. And for a moment I questioned: where does one draw the line between intense anger and hatred?
I contrast this with today’s gospel. Jesus’ message is extremely clear. Do not judge! He specifically says, “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
I’ve begun noticing more and more subtle forms of judgment within people. We have judgments between parishioners, judgments between parishes and judgments between faith traditions. Some can be positive and constructive. Others are mean spirited. While still others border into self-righteousness.
I’ve noticed there are some people who simply can’t be happy with who they are. There are some people who always have a strong need to be against another. Some people are always against the Pope or the Vatican. Others are against the president or a particular political party. Still others are against their boss, a coworker, their spouse. Why do some have such a strong need to be against others? Is this not a variation on judgmentalism? Yes, we may have differences of ideas or opinions. But what does it say about us when we can’t find anything good in those that we are against? And what does it say about those who spend all of their energy being against? Frankly, I’m completely mystified at how a person can devote themselves to be a follower of Jesus, yet inside they fill their heart with things that
feed their anger, even to the point of hatred.
Jesus concludes, “For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”
The holiest people I know are the people who fill their hearts with love. And what do they get in return? They get more people. They get people who can receive their love and give love in return.
I remember a dream I had about one of these holy people. It was the kind of dream that has no end. It has spilled over into my wakened conscience. And my day has been filled with pleasantness. This joy has not even been worn down by the grumbling voices. Indeed, today I’ve seen even a new form on the salvation of Jesus. And my Lenten season is blessed for I’ve witnessed the salvation of Christ in a new way on this blessed day not out of judgment, but out of the goodness of love.
Fr. David Colhour, C.P. is the pastor of St. Agnes Parish in Louisville, Kentucky.