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Hold On: Got Something in My Eye

November 29, 2015

In today’s Gospel, Our Lord is wrapping up His sermon on the mount with some last thoughts; one being judging others. Here, St. Matthew is not just talking about having an opinion; no, he is using the word describing one judging harshly, or delivering condemnation. It is intended to call out the scribes and Pharisees who all too frequently are inclined to find fault and come across as harshly, and unreasonably critical.

Modern translation has us believing that someone who judges unfairly is to expect unfair and disproportioned judgment of God. This is certainly not the case. Harsh judgments will certainly be punished severely – but not unfairly. So in a parable-sort-of way, Jesus is pointing out the tendency of a person to be overly critical and acutely aware of the faults of others – ‘the splinter’ – while being complacent about their own character – ‘the beam’.

I am blessed to know Mr. John Pridmore, who goes around the world evangelizing at-risk youth. He had some pretty good advice recently. First, we need to be in the proper perception, and understanding about filial love in our lives. He writes, “Sin doesn’t hurt God as much as refusing to love your brother as yourself.” No matter how we transgress or offend, we could do no worse by being disingenuous to our brother, our sister, our neighbor, and yes – our enemy. Imagine all the heartache avoided if we would just love instead. Charleston, Ferguson, Selma – the list goes on and on. Jesus did not command us to only love our white, rich, or even our straight neighbors. Second, “Don’t compare yourself to others. You don’t have to be the best – just do your best.” Life is hard enough already without holding ourselves to an unreasonable – or unattainable – standard. Eliminate judgment of others, and avoid the deadly, critical game of unfair comparison. I have told all five of my children this. If your best is all B’s then that’s your best. If you struggle even to scratch out a C, and you tried your best? Then you did the most you can. Lastly, “Don’t judge yourself. Allow God to be the judge – he’s much more merciful than you.” Frequently, I find myself remembering that I am my own worst critic. This is the judging that we should seek to eliminate in our lives – and being successful at that will open ourselves up to accepting what the Lord meant by loving our neighbor as ourselves. We have been created purely out of God’s generous love. His intention is for us to happily spend eternity with Him. Celebrate that. Live like that. Give yourself – and others – a break.

I keep this quote in my thoughts. A lot of people have taken credit for it, but it goes like this: ‘Mercy is NOT receiving what you deserve. Grace is receiving what you DO NOT deserve.’

Remember: 1. Sin doesn’t hurt God as much as refusing to love your brother as yourself. 2. Don’t compare yourself to others. You don’t have to be the best – just do your best. 3. Don’t judge yourself. Allow God to be the judge – he’s much more merciful than you. May we be merciful to ourselves by refraining from harsh judgment, and share the grace we gain with one another for a better world.

 

To Jesus through Mary,

Papa

 

Monday, June 22, 2015, Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Genesis 12:1-9. Abraham went as the Lord directed him.

Responsorial: Ps 33:12 – R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

Matthew 7:1-5. Remove the wooden beam from your eye first.

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