“You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.””

The short passage read today continues Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in a new chapter (Mt 7:1-5).  It begins with the oft-quoted line, “Stop judging, that you may not be judged” (v. 1).  The way one judges others is how God will judge him when he meets Him.  The reading concludes with the line above.  This is certainly a difficult challenge the Lord presents to us.  It is very easy to pass judgment on others on anything from appearance to attitude to disposition to words and actions.  While we certainly can, and are sometimes obligated to, make prudential judgments regarding objective actions, we are never to judge the internal disposition or eternal fate of any person; we leave this to God’s justice and mercy.  Even here, it is a wonderful thing to always attribute the best possible motives to others.  In this we show our love of neighbor and our desire to build him up in his eyes, our eyes, and others’ eyes.  To best accomplish this, we must take the Lord’s advice (above) to get rid of our own “wooden beam” first: What sins and vices do we cling to or have on our souls that bring us down and heighten the desire to pull others down as well?  Do we really have any reason to point out the fault of others when we should be focusing on cleaning up our own act, something that requires a lifetime of diligent prayer, penance, and mortification?  Our attitude should not be that of the Pharisee in the synagogue: “O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity” (Lk 18:11) who looks at others as the problem, but rather that of the tax collector in the synagogue: “O God, be merciful to me a sinner” (Lk 18:13) who finds the problem inward.  Then we can look forward to a personal judgment at the moment of death measured in the small (or hopefully empty) amount in which we measured others.

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