On judging others PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 06 May 2018 14:40

REFLECTION

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

CHRIST told us very clearly that we should refrain from judging others. “Do not judge, or you will be judged,” he said. “For with the same judgment you pronounce, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you…” (Mt 7,1-2)

We need to understand these words well. It’s not that we should not judge at all, since with our spiritual nature that endows us with intelligence and will, part of our way of knowing is precisely to judge. It’s when we make judgments that we start to know things.

Our process of knowing covers the stages of simple apprehension, then judgment, then reasoning.

The words of Christ are meant to restrain us from making rash judgments, especially on other people whose status in any given moment we can hardly know completely. They are meant for us to judge well so that we too can be judged fairly, that is, with compassion and mercy, by others and ultimately by God.

With others, we have to practice a lot of restraint and moderation because the condition of any man will always involve certain mysteries that we can hardly fathom. St. Augustine has this to say about us: “Don’t you believe that there is in man a deep so profound as to be hidden even to him in whom it is?”

In fact, more than practicing restraint and moderation, given how man is, or how we are, we should judge with charity, with compassion and understanding, ever willing to give others the benefit of the doubt in their goodness and innocence, and even trying to find excuses for them. That’s because in the end, in spite of our differences and mistakes, we are all brothers and sisters, all children of God, bound to love one another.

Even in those instances where one is already known to have committed a big crime, and worse, is not sorry for it, we still cannot make a final judgment on him. That final judgment belongs to God alone who knows everything.

An example of this is what Pope Benedict XVI said of Judas Iscariot. “This mystery is even more profound if one thinks of Judas’ eternal fate,” he said, “knowing that he ‘repented and brought back the 30 pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying ‘I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.’ (Mt 27,3-4)  “Though he departed afterward to hang himself (cf Mt 27,5), it is not for us to judge his gesture, putting ourselves in God’s place, who is infinitely merciful and just.” (Audience, Oct 19, 2006)

Everyday, we need to make some progress in knowing how to judge people properly. It may be in the area of patience, of having a pro-active attitude of thinking well of others in spite of what you see in them, of learning how to keep quiet, or of simply protecting ourselves from the more or less general atmosphere of fault-finding, intrigue-sowing, gossiping, back-biting and the like.

We just have to make sure that we think, judge and reason out with God, since he gave us these powers that have to be exercised under his law and terms, so to speak.

God is the very foundation of reality. It is from him that we come and to him that we belong. He is actually everything to us. It would be funny if we think otherwise, although that is entirely possible since we are capable to abusing our freedom, of thinking that we can be absolutely on our own.

Our usual problem is that we tend to think, judge and reason out, and even love outside the orbit of God, outside the purview of his laws and will. This is what our Lord meant when he said we should not judge.