Monday, August 25, 2008
Measuring Up As Followers of Christ
Although we are not the religious authority of our day, we do have something in common with the pharisees in the Gospel today. Jesus reprimands them for shutting up the Kingdom of Heaven to others who want to enter. He also tells them that they themselves were not going to enter either even though that was what they wanted. These are pretty serious words from our Lord. It would be good if we were attentive to them. So how do we commit the same sin in our daily lives? By being so judgemental of our fellow man? No! By being so judgemental of our fellow Christians. More specifically of our fellow Catholics. We can easily point out why they do not measure up. They don't believe they way we do. They are not as committed as we think they should be. They are not reverent enough. They are doing things only for show. They want to be popular or visible in the parish. They read books that we would never read. They drink or smoke or listen to the wrong music. They are too open to other Christians. They are too strict or conservative. They send their kids to public school. They home school. They have too many children. They dress improperly. They dress too modestly. They expressed an opinion once long ago that I did not like or agree with. They talk to much. They never say anything they must be judging me. They do not like the Holy Father. They went to see the wrong speaker. They did not genuflect. They knelt to receive. They are in the wrong prayer group. They don't pray the rosary. These are just a few of the many judgements that the wide variety of Catholics make against each other. Do we want these people to enter the Kingdom of Heaven or are we trying to shut them out? Do we want to enter? Not all of our judgements are sinful. What motivates are judgments is important though. The pharisees in the Gospel judged everyone believing that they saw things just as God did. After all they used as a measure the Law given by God. Which they wanted to live out perfectly. Jesus reveals to them their hypocrisy even in following the law they have gone astray. They had exalted man's opinion and forgotten the truth of God's Revelation. We do the same in our many judgements of our brothers and sisters. Jesus also tells the pharisees that they not only do this but are teaching others to do so as well. We do the same. Often by committing other sins like gossip, or detraction. Our only hope is found in the one seated upon the throne that Jesus mentions at the end of the Gospel. He is our only hope. Our Crucified Lord is our only hope. The cross is his throne. His gaze from the cross was one of mercy and love. If only we could see each other with his eyes, we would not be so quick to judge ourselves or others. Then we could correct one another in love and mutual affection. For then we could see the wounds each one bears and our own as well. And we would know that only in the blood and water that flows from our Savior's side do we find healing and peace. If His Love motivated our decisions and judgments we would truly be striving for the Kingdom. Often like the pharisees we say we love him and then are busy pointing out how unworthy others are of his love or how they need to change in order to be worthy. The most disgraceful thing about this is that we often judge most harshly the people close to us. We must place all our Trust in the Lord, in His Love and Mercy. Then we can stop judging and live in the freedom of the sons and daughters of God.