Thursday, August 9, 2007

Rash Judgment

1. Instead of examining their own consciences in the presence of God, there are many people who are always prepared to judge the thoughts and actions of others. Do you belong to this category? Reflect for a while on the words of the Gospel.

Do not judge, said Christ, that you may not be judged. For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged, and with what measure you measure, it shall be measured to you. But why dost thou see the speck in thy brother's eye, and yet dost not consider the beam in thine own eye? Or how canst thou say to thy brother, "let me cast out the speck from thy eye"; and behold, there is a beam in thy own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam from thy own eye, and then thou wilt see clearly to cast out the speck from thy brother's eye. (Mt. 7:1-5)

These severe words condemn rash judgments; they also impose on us the obligation of correcting our own faults rather than censuring those of others. We are warned, moreover, that if we judge others harshly, the Divine judge will treat us with equal severity.

A judgment is rash when it is formed without any sure basis and without necessity. It is a difficult thing to penetrate the secrets of the human heart and conscience. Only God can do it with absolute certainty. St. Bernard remarked that anyone who .judges others rashly is usurping a right which belongs to Almighty God. How can we possibly guess at the motives and intentions of our fellow-men?

It is fairer and kinder to be ready to excuse our fellow-men and to appreciate their good qualities. We should leave it to God to judge their deficiencies and occupy ourselves with making amendment for our own sins.

2. Rash judgments are sometimes formed quite thoughtlessly. At other times they are the product of malice, envy, pride, or hatred. Even when they are lightly arrived at, they are sinful because they are opposed to the law of charity. When they are the result of one of the passions mentioned, they are far more gravely sinful, because they presuppose the intention of injuring our neighbour. Rash judgments like this rarely remain enclosed in the mind, but are expressed openly with consequent damage to the character of the victim.

It is easy to progress from lighter faults to grave sin in this matter. A rash judgment soon becomes a slander, and a sin against charity soon becomes a sin against justice involving an obligation to make reparation.

3. Let us contemplate Jesus as our model. While He was hanging from the Cross, He looked down compassionately upon His jeering enemies. Not only did He pray for them and forgive them, but He even made excuses for them to His heavenly Father. Father, forgive them, fir they do not know what they are doing. (Luke 23:24)

It is still the same. Very often when people commit sin they do so because they have not reflected about what they are doing.

For this reason we should always be kind in our judgments and prudent about expressing them. A harsh judgment can cause irreparable damage to our brother's character, whereas a kind word can lead him back from the path of evil.