Judging and Discernment

Luke 6: 36-38
Isa 1:10,16-20 / Psa 50

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.
(Luke 6:36)

The good in some we may discount
If we always tend to criticize;
We all shall be called to account
At the judgment seat of Jesus Christ.

(Jesus said), “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. 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. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure, will in return be measured out to you.” (Luke 6:36-38)

Reflection

After teaching His disciples to love their enemies, (“Do good to them…then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High”), Jesus next taught them how to treat their own friends who have offended them or behaved wrongfully towards them. And His message consisted of: mercy, forgiveness, generosity and discernment.

First of all, our Lord cautions us not to be judgmental. For instance, in order to be able to reject all forms of erroneous teachings, we must learn how to discern what is right and what is wrong. Through faith in God’s Word, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we should be able to discern the truthfulness of what we read or hear. Then we can teach, encourage and rebuke with sound judgment. But it must always be in humble supplication and a heart predisposed to mercy that we employ this gift of sound judgment. Last Saturday, we had our Lenten recollection, which my wife and I decided not to finish because we could not seem to agree with the “reflections” of our retreat master. Citing yesterday’s Gospel about the Transfiguration, he said Jesus had turned pale (or white) with fear, when in fact it was the three apostles who trembled with fear when they heard God speaking in the cloud. Then he said Jesus turned red with rage later on when He was crucified, angry with His Father for “having forsaken Him”. He went on to say (with conviction) that if Jesus had not heard the Father’s words during His baptism in the Jordan river, He could not have overcome Satan when he was tempted in the desert. Then he rambled on about the Incarnation, how God had to use an intermediary (the angel Gabriel) when He wooed the Blessed Mary to become the mother of His Son. And he related it as if the Almighty had been romantically smitten. He obviously has a flair for the dramatic. It was just too much for us to take, so we quietly left after lunch, much confused about what he meant that we must all undergo our own “incarnation”. What must be done about this situation? Do I write this priest and cite what I believe to be the errors of his teachings? As a layman, might I be presuming to have the higher moral ground by judging his lessons to be false? Please help me out here.

Deep within, I believe we must never tolerate teachings that are doubtful or patently false, even as we should also be open to correction ourselves. I know we must have a merciful heart, rather than a judgmental one; to understand rather than condemn; but we must also speak out for the truth even if others are offended when they are corrected. If we have the courage to do this, then our merciful Father in heaven will pour out His immeasurable generosity into our life. This is our Lord’s firm and dependable promise.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for teaching us that there is only one standard by which we can judge others, and that is by judging our own motives. Amen.

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