Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Reflections for the 23rd Week in Ordinary Time, Part 2

Thursday – Judging

Many times in this modern world we hear people say, “Don't judge me,” or “Jesus says not to judge,” or even “Who are you to judge me?” They usually say this when they are breaking some moral law and don't want to hear that what they are doing is wrong.

At first glance, today's Gospel seems to prove them right. Jesus does indeed say, “Stop judging and you will not be judged.” But what does He mean? The Greek verb for judge, krinō, can help us understand. The word means to bring someone to trial and to determine that person's innocence or guilt.

We can't, of course, do that. We don't know whether or not someone is innocent or guilty before God. Only He can read the depths of people's hearts. Only He can understand the intricacies of a person's motivations and culpability. Only He can know whether a person gave full consent to a sin or knew that it was wrong at the time he or she committed it. That's why Jesus tells us not to judge; we can't see into the depths of a person the way God can.

That being said, however, we do have the responsibility to call sin what it is: sin. In Luke 17:3, Jesus says, “If your brother sins, rebuke him.” In Matthew 18, He elaborates further, “If your brother sins [against you], go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.” 

The moral law is objective. God established it, and it does not change. We must recognize sin where we see and it label it for what it really is. This is actually love. Love is to will the absolute best for another person. Sin is definitely not the best, so when we see people falling into serious sin, it is actually an act of love, not a judgment, to tell them that they are heading down a wrong and dangerous road. We can't judge their hearts, but we can certainly look at their actions and say whether they are right or wrong according to the moral law. We can, and indeed, we must.

Friday – Seeing Clearly

In today's Gospel, Jesus invites us to see ourselves clearly. “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye,” He asks, “but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?...Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.”

We are all sinners. We all have many faults. We all get on other people's nerves. We can all be incredibly annoying and frustrating at times. 

Usually, though, we are quick to notice others' failings but pretty slow to recognize our own. This is why Jesus tells us to remove the beam from our own eyes before we work on getting a splinter out of someone else's eye. We need to help ourselves first. We need to repent of our sins and to bring our failures to God with contrite hearts. We need to allow Him to remove the beam of sin that keeps us pinned down. We need to accept His mercy and grace and love. 

Only then we will be ready to pass those gifts along to others. Only then we will be able to act with love to correct our neighbors and help them remove the splinters of sin from their lives. 

Saturday – The Name of the Lord

“Praise, you servants of the Lord, praise the Name of the Lord. Blessed be the Name of the Lord both now and forever.”

God's Name, the one He revealed to Moses, is “I am.” His Name is more than just the word we use to call on Him or designate Him. As is often the case in the Bible, a name refers to a person's deepest character. A person's name tells us who that person really is in his heart of hearts. God is Being Himself. 

This is why we praise God's Name. When we do that, we are praising God for His very Being. We are blessing Him and glorifying Him as the all-mighty, all-loving, all-wise, all-present God. We are acknowledging His power and His justice and His mercy. We are proclaiming Who God is, and we are bowing before Him in humble worship, pouring out our love and offering Him everything we have and everything we are.

Therefore, praise God's holy Name! Bless His Name forever and ever!

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