22 Jun 2015
When Jesus says, “Stop judging, that you may not be judged,” he’s not saying: “Don’t try to correct other people.” That would go against his mandate to proclaim the gospel, which certainly involves bringing people to honest conversion. Instead, he seems to say: “Don’t be so quick to judge—before correcting others, let yourself be corrected.” And then we’ll be able to be a real help to someone else.
As a priest I see this all the time in the confessional. There I sit with my purple stole on, being the face and voice of Christ to others. And yet, I’m also a sinner, like everybody else. It would be a terrible experience if I responded to others out of self-righteousness. In that case, I’d be a barrier and not at all a reconciling presence. And you don’t have to be the priest in the confessional to understand that.
Whenever we try to correct other people without a dose of humility, relationships break down and the gospel message of unity and peace is stopped dead in its tracks. Instead, Jesus asks us to be humble—not self-deprecating, but humble; that is, honest with ourselves about who we are: our strengths and our faults. And in being humble, we can have more patience with others. And with that patience we’ll be able to see more clearly and respond more mercifully to the faults of others.
Christ himself is all about getting people on the right track in life. And we’re called to help him in that mission. But before we can really be Christ to others, Jesus needs to be Christ to us. Jesus, who is kind and gentle, slow to anger and of great mercy. As he judges us with mercy, so may we judge others with the same mercy.