LENTEN REFLECTION – The Second Week – Monday 13 March
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you.” —Luke 6:37–38
Our life is a constant exercise in judgment: in distinguishing what is good from what is bad, in deciding which course of action we would like to take, in discerning which kind of life we wish to create for ourselves. From the day we are born to our last breath, we judge. It’s the way of life and survival. Hence, Jesus’ exhortation in today’s gospel reading, that we should not judge, must not be understood to mean that every process of discernment should be abandoned. If it did, our lives would fall into chaos.
Rather, He should be understood to mean that if we do judge, especially our brothers or sisters, we should see to it that the measure by which we gauge their acceptability is the same measure we would use on ourselves.
There are occasions when we do tend to be too demanding of others while too lax and undemanding of ourselves. That would not only be unfair in Jesus’ mind, it would also be hypocritical. For a hypocrite is one who judges himself with a standard far lower than what he would use in judging others. And this is a very grave danger, not only to one’s faith but to the very integrity of one’s character. Justice and fairness after all, are the measure by which we shall all be judged in the end.
Blessed John Henry Newman says:
“Saint John the Baptist had a most difficult office to fulfill; that of rebuking a king…It is difficult to rebuke well, that is, at the right time, in a right spirit and a right manner. T he holy Baptist rebuked Herod without making him angry; therefore he must have rebuked him with gravity, temper, sincerity and an evident good-will towards him. On the other hand, he spoke so firmly, sharply and faithfully, that his rebuke cost him his life.
We who now live have not that extreme duty put upon us with which Saint John was laden (namely, rebuking a king); yet every one of us has a share in his office (of admonishing), inasmuch as we are all bound “to rebuke vice boldly,” when we have fit opportunities for so doing…
Aim at viewing all things in a plain and candid light and at calling them by their right names. Be frank, do not keep your notions of right and wrong to yourselves, nor, conceit that the world is too bad to be taught the Truth, suffer it to sin in word or deed without rebuke. Do not allow friend or stranger in the familiar intercourse of society to advance false opinions, nor shrink from stating your own and do this in singleness of mind and love…
…The single-hearted Christian will find fault, not austerely or gloomily but in love; not stiffly, but naturally, gently, and as a matter of course, just as he would tell his friend of some obstacle in his path which was likely to throw him down but without any feeling of superiority over him…”
Great reflection – reread it a couple more times! It gives great advice on how we as Christians are obligated to charitably and meekly correct the sins of others and he also advises us on the way to go about it. Always ask for the help of the Holy Spirit when you feel called to speak up, so that in careful prudence, you may discern what is the best manner to go about it.