The Lord alone is the Judge of hearts and minds. We are free to judge the morality of certain actions. However, as sinners, we have no right to judge the souls of others. St. Cyril of Alexandria speaks of this inclination to judge others as the “beginning and origin of a proud disdain,” which makes us forget our own disordered passions, which leads to our ruin.
In today’s Gospel reading, our Lord says, “For the measure with which you measure will inreturn be measured out to you (Lk 6:38).” We are unable to accept God’s gift of mercy and forgiveness if we do not first forgive others. We cry out to God, “Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins (Ps 103:10a).” But how often do we deal with others according to their sins? We are engaged in a great battle against our own pride and sinfulness.
In this time of Lent, the Lord invites us to be purified of the temptation to be judgmental. He invites us to have our hearts enlightened by His mercy so that we can practice the Father’s mercy with others. Speaking of the temptation of improper judgement, St. John Chrysostom says, “You will not easily find any one, whether a father or a family or an inhabitant of the cloister, free from this error.”
To overcome this temptation, we must first practice humble prayer, that we might be transformed to be more in the likeness of our merciful God. Second, we must practice fasting, so that when the temptation arises, we will be ready to do battle. And third, in our giving of alms, kindness, and time, we must seek to be as generous as the Lord is in giving mercy. God alone knows the inner hearts of men.
Will Wright lives in the Diocese of Phoenix and is the Dir. of Catechesis and Evangelization for Our Lady of Lourdes Parish. He is a Master’s student at Franciscan University of Steubenville.