Way beyond words and deeds

- Fr. Roy Cimagala (The Freeman) - May 13, 2016 - 10:00am

Let's be most careful with our judgments. Yes, we are made to judge, and that's simply because we are spiritual beings with intelligence and will whose operation is precisely to know, to think, to judge, to reason, etc.

We cannot know things, we cannot develop and grow, we cannot have some semblance of justice and love unless we make some judgments. We just have to make sure that our judgments do not go beyond the limits that we are all subject to.

Our judgments can only be relative, never absolute. Or better said, we can make absolutely right judgments, but always based on facts and data, on objective truth and fair laws, and always given in the context of charity and mercy. Outside of these, we would be making improper judgments.

These latter are what Christ warned us about. Remember when he said: "Do not judge, that you may not be judged." (Mt 7,1) We should be careful when we read the gospel, otherwise we will come out with funny conclusions. If considered only in itself, this passage can make us conclude that we should not judge at all. And that's funny.

But the second line after that somehow puts those words in the right context. "For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged; and with what measure you measure, it shall be measured to you." These presume that we judge, but that we should judge properly. That's the catch.

We have to realize that our judgments can only go so much because we obviously do not know everything, especially the most intimate core of one's thoughts and very being. We cannot make judgments that go beyond what we know as our basis for such judgments.

Yes, we can make some judgments on a person's words and deeds, but always based on some verifiable facts and made according to some agreed laws and standards. Beyond these, we should not make any judgments. That would be foul. We would be overstepping.

Only God can make the absolute judgment on any person and event, since he knows everything. And what we know is that God loves all, including those whom we consider to be in error according to our human standards.

Christ precisely made this clear when he said that we have to love our own enemies. Let's again go through that wonderful gospel passage if only to savor its divine message:

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

"If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Mt 5,43-48)

Here we have the complete picture of how we ought to judge. Yes, we have to make judgments, but knowing the limits, the conditions and requirements that would make our judgments proper.

What is clear is that while we make judgments, we have to be charitable all the time. We should always make our judgments defer to the absolute judgments of God who "causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."

What we can derive from all this is that while we have to make some judgments, we need, to be charitable to everyone, to go beyond the words and deeds of persons, even beyond the strengths and weaknesses of a person's character and temperament, beyond the different conditionings we all subject to-genetic, social, cultural, historical, etc.

We need to acknowledge the ultimate reality about ourselves - that we are all creatures of God, children of his, created in his image and likeness. He will love us still like crazy, in spite of our stupidities.

Remember that beautiful passage from the Book of Isaiah: "Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion the son of her womb? Even these may forget but I will not forget you." (49,15)

Let's be quick to understand each other, ready to forgive, sport in our differences, magnanimous in our victories and gracious in our defeats. Let's not waste time keeping grudges, living in fear and enmity with others. We would be wasting our life that way!


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