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"Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. You say, “We know that God’s judgment on those who do such things is in accordance with truth.” Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:1-4)

“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is 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 neighbor’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5)

 

The author of this month’s Forward Day by Day devotions, Brendan O’Sullivan-Hale, wrote a very insightful reflection on today’s reading from Romans (see part of that reading above). He begins, “I may have thought of myself as a pretty non-judgmental person at one time, but the COVID-19 pandemic unleashed a wave of judgment in my life. I judged people wearing masks incorrectly at the grocery store. I judged people eating in restaurants. I judged churches that put too little effort into online worship and those that put in too much… And I know for a fact that people were judging me, too.”

I notice that my judging goes beyond COVID-related occasions. I judge people who park and leave their cars idling. I judge people who park in the no-parking area in front of Smith’s. (A lot of my judging has to do with the way other people drive!) I judge people who I deem to be entitled. I judge folks who seem to value gun ownership over a human life.  I am very judgmental. 

I have added Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount - the words from Matthew 7, above - because there is a big overlap between Paul and Jesus on this topic.

I also am meditating on Paul’s words, that God’s kindness and forbearance and patience is meant to lead me to repentance. To repent is to change. Thomas Keating says that to repent is to change the direction in which you are looking for happiness. I know one thing: Any blaming or judging that I do does not lead me to a place of happiness, but rather to a kind of feeling-sick-to-my-stomach darkness. Only when I manage to offer love and receive love do I find real happiness.

Maybe the best way to finish this meditation is to quote O’Sullivan-Hale’s final paragraph in his reflection for today:

“Thanks be to God that this is the teaching of the church: judge not. Easier said than done, but the cycle of recrimination is exhausting and emotionally draining. God desires that we choose a different way.”