The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Although I am an ordained deacon of the Catholic Church, the opinions expressed in this blog are my personal opinions. In offering these personal opinions I am not acting as a representative of the Church or any Church organization.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Homily: Monday, 12th Week in Ordinary Time

If you would like to view a video recording of this morning's Mass, click here: Monday, 12th Week in Ordinary Time.

The following is the text of my homily.

Readings: 2 Kings 17:5-8,13-15; Ps 60; Mt 7:1-5 

Back in high school, so many years ago, our chemistry teacher, Fr. McGowan (or was it Fr. Kane?…Well it was a long time ago) often begin chemistry class with a brief reading from the Sermon on the Mount.

I suppose, at first, we listened a little, but every day we listened a bit more…until finally we realized that Jesus was telling us to do a lot of things the world didn’t especially like. I’m sure it had a lasting effect on some of us, and others? Well, some reacted as many Christians still react to the Sermon on the Mount.
Oh, Jesus didn’t really mean all that…or…He was speaking allegorically…or Jesus was just exaggerating to make a point…and on and on we go…
Yes, we love to change Jesus’ words, to water them down, to qualify them. It makes us feel much better about our unwillingness to listen and obey. Instead of beginning with God’s Word, we begin with our own beliefs, and bend the Gospel to make it fit and support our particular agendas.

Consider today’s passage on judgment – it’s always made me feel more than a little uncomfortable. How often do I judge people? I can’t count the ways…and on such trivial things.

The driver who doesn’t notice the light’s turned green. 

The person in line at the supermarket who can’t seem to find her credit card.

The clerk in the department store who ignores me and continues his conversation with a coworker.

Yes, I judge them all. And who’s at the center of all these judgments? Why me, of course. I'm at the intersection; I'm in the checkout line; I'm waiting to be served. Of course, other judgments are not so trivial… 

The celebrity who flaunts a pornographic lifestyle, influencing millions of young people.

The Catholic politician who consistently and publicly opposes Church teaching.

The child abuser…the drug dealer…the terrorist…

Oh, I judge them all. Convict them. Condemn them. I watch the evening news, I read the newspaper, and I make judgments about others. Here, too, I place myself at the center. I decide if they merit forgiveness. I decide if there’s a reason for them to take up space in the world…in my world. And yet Jesus tells us:
“Stop judging that you may not be judged” [Mt 7:1]
Now, Jesus isn’t saying that if we stop judging others, they’ll stop judging us. Not at all. No, He’s telling us the only judgment that counts is God’s judgment. 

You see, when I judge others, I assume I’m the all-knowing, infallible judge. I try to make myself God. I suppose that’s the biggest beam in my eye.

We cannot define ourselves as judges and at the same time really believe in our deeper identity as sinners needing forgiveness and redemption. We go to confession, and say the right words, but do we believe what we say? Yes, sometimes we seem to be testing God, to see how far His forgiveness extends. 

Jesus had just told his listeners: 
“Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” [Mt 5:48].
By refusing to judge others we allow God to teach us one of His perfections, that of mercy.

Refusing to judge doesn’t mean I abdicate my responsibility as a Christian. Far from it! Because where our neighbor is involved, we Christians can never be indifferent: We can judge, or we can forgive; we can exclude, or we can love. What other choices are there? 

In our humanity, we might object! 
I just want to do good. I want to help others overcome their faults. I want to heal others, to fix others, to go out into the world and contribute to its welfare.
Once again, the focus is on me, isn’t it? We judge and then we inject ourselves into others’ lives, assuming we possess God-like knowledge:
“Yes, I’m here to help. Let me remove the splinter from your eye, so you’ll be better, like me.”
We not only judge. We move right in don’t we? And we feel so good having helped  as a superior to an inferior, out of a pleasant sense of condescension – all the time forgetting that any real healing, any fixing, is done not by me, but by God. 

So, what’s the cure?

Quite simply, we must learn to serve one another as fellow patients afflicted with the same malady – the wounded helping the wounded.

We must learn to put on the mind of Christ, to see through the eyes of Christ, eyes that radiate love and forgiveness. Indeed, the greatest act of Christian charity is forgiveness.

But if I lead a life of forgiveness, as Christ did and taught, it’s not because of my own goodness; rather it’s because I am conscious of being continually forgiven by God. Instead of judging another, I can give thanks he or she is there to receive from me the pardon I’ve received from God.

The alternative? How did Jesus put it? 
“...the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you” [Mt 7:2].
Measure for measure…

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