The Final Verdict

It is unfortunately frequent that casual listeners of the Word of God get it into their heads that Our Lord’s command to “not judge” means “to allow others to behave anyway they prefer.” We see in the first reading today that it actually means “final verdict.” And who has the right to give the final verdict on you and me? State and federal judges are given limited power to decide what will happen to us on earth, but can they look into our souls and know where we are fit to be for all eternity?

No. “I do not even pass judgment on myself,” says Paul, knowing that he is far too limited and flawed to really see all that he has done, how it has affected others, and to what degree his intentions have been pure or impure. Only God has the power to make that call. Our wonderful hope lies in the fact that God is not merely a Judge, but a Lover of mankind. Jesus refers to himself as the Bridegroom in today’s Gospel reading, and so he is! Once again he takes the opportunity to show that everything he gives us, including the moral law that guides us, is intended to bring us into a state of existence that will be very much like a good Catholic wedding: a joyful celebration where there is love and music and excellent wine and everything is in harmony. That destiny is the judgment that Jesus longs to pass on all of us. I wouldn’t want to do anything that excludes me from that–but I do exclude myself, don’t I? Far too often. “In my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,” as the Penitential Rite puts it. May God pour new wine into all of us, the new life of Jesus that he gives us freely, so that, as the Psalms put it, we “may abide forever.”

Dan Lord

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Dan Lord is the author of Choosing Joy (Our Sunday Visitor, 2012). His articles have appeared in Crisis, National Catholic Register, Catholic News Agency, and Fathers For Good. He blogs at That Strangest of Wars.

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