Judging!

One day a partially deaf lad was given a note from his teacher to give his mother, suggesting that she take him out of school, because he was too stupid to learn.

The mother’s reaction was to set to it, and begin teaching him herself. The boy grew up, and Thomas Edison, for that was his name, left a wealth of inventions that leaves us all deeply in his debt.

He invented the motion picture, the record player, and the light bulb. When he died, the U.S. as a nation switched off all electric lights for one minute in his memory, at a time decided on at the national level.

- How wrong we can be in our judgements!

- Herb Barks wrote: God don’t make no junk!” How often do people find themselves on the scrap heaps of life through the rejection of others?

- taken from “150 More Stories for Preachers and Teachers” by Jack McArdle
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Genesis 12:1-9

The Lord said to Abram, “Leave your country, your family and your father’s house, for the land I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name so famous that it will be used as a blessing.

“I will bless those who bless you:
I will curse those who slight you.
All the tribes of the earth
shall bless themselves by you.”

So Abram went as the Lord told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. Abram took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had amassed and the people they had acquired in Haran. They set off for the and of Canaan, and arrived there.

Abram passed through the land as far as Shechem’s holy place, the Oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “It is to your descendants that I will give this land.” So Abram built there an altar for the Lord who had appeared to him. From there he moved on to the mountainous district east of Bethel, where he pitched his tent, with Bethel to the west and Ai to the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and invoked the name of the Lord. Then Abram made his way stage by stage to the Negeb.
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Matthew 7:1-5

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; because the judgements you give are the judgements you will get, and the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given. Why do you observe the splinter in your brother’s eye and never notice the plank in your own? How dare you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye’, when all the time there is a plank in your own? Hypocrite! Take the plank out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye.”
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I received an email with a link to an article today titled “Catholic witch-hunt to expose gay clergy”. Here’s how it starts:

Patricia McKeever does not like to be photographed. She does not like people to know where she lives and prefers to communicate with the outside world by letter or e-mail. But, from the security of her home, the 58-year-old former secondary school teacher has co-ordinated a relentless campaign to name and shame gay Roman Catholic priests.

While Ms McKeever might carry hypocrisy and judgements to an extreme, to the point of being anti-Christian even, we cannot deny that she is well-intentioned. Some of us are no less guilty of doing something similar. We judge people when we attempt to determine whether a person is a sinner or whether a person is saved, based on what we know of the person.

The problem with this sort of judgement is that it is imperfect, because we do not know what the person is thinking, or what he or she is feeling. Only God knows, which is why only God is fit to judge a person. Right from the beginning, God tells Abraham in not so many words: “Leave the judging to me.”

We cannot judge people, because we do not know where they are coming from. What we can judge are actions. With the wisdom of the Church, we can judge whether actions are objectively disordered, but we cannot judge people.

Perhaps one way that is most appalling today is when we judge whether another person has the right to life or whether he or she deserves to die. In Singapore (and in other countries), this takes place when we approve of abortion, and when we approve of the death penalty. In one case, we refuse an innocent’s right to life, and in another case, we sentence a guilty person to death. We have become the judges of life and death by determining who lives and who dies.

As appealing as the arguments for both cases are, neither argument can be said to follow the heart of the Gospel. As columnist Ronald Rolheiser writes, “Jesus is clear on this: He challenges us to forgive those who murder our loved ones and who might indeed murder us. The capacity to forgive a murderer is one of the litmus tests for Christian discipleship. This is where Jesus most stretches the heart.

“It’s in the invitation to deeper discipleship where it is clear that we must forgive murderers rather than execute them, that the earth belongs equally to all, and that God alone has the power to decide life and death.”
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Prayer:
Dear Jesus, we pray that we might be able to accept your invitation to deeper discipleship, by choosing to love others by not judging them based on what we know. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: The clear-cut morality of Christian discipleship.

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