“Stop judging and you will not be judged.”

For today’s short gospel passage we jump over to Luke (6:36-38).  This falls in the middle of Luke’s “Sermon on the Plain” (Lk 6:20-49), a much shorter counterpart to Matthew’s “Sermon on the Mount” (Mt 5-7).  The excerpt of this day comes after Jesus just finished telling His disciples to love their enemies.  To this, in itself, very difficult saying, Jesus adds the additional challenges of not judging and condemning, but rather showing mercy and forgiveness.  In particular, Jesus’ words seen heading this post can be most difficult.  Unfortunately, this is also one of the most misused and misunderstood passages in the gospels.  Often it’s used to excuse bad behavior: “Stop judging me!  I’m following my conscience.”  As Jesus states in the very next sentence, we certainly should not presume to pass eternal condemnation on anyone for his actions (even the Church does not declare anyone in Hell) — that’s up to the Lord.  But we can and should make rational judgments based on an understanding informed by Scripture, Tradition, and Church teaching.  In fact, when we see sin abound, injustice rampant, and persecution spreading, we err if we do not pray and act.  But our words and deeds must always be grounded in humility (“There but for the grace of God go I” — John Bradford) and love (“My dear children, love one another” — John the Apostle).  Like God, we should love the sinner, but care for him too much to let him wallow in his sin.

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