Greetings from Mt Olympus

Romans 2:1-11 / Lk 11:42-46

In today’s epistle reading, St. Paul could be describing any one of us. We human beings seem to have an overwhelming compulsion to judge, whatever the issue or the occasion may happen to be. As if we dwelt on the heights of Mt. Olympus, we always have some judgment to offer, whether it’s our business or not. And what we have to say is rarely positive.

Where does this need to judge come from? A lack of realistic self-knowledge is what makes this kind of judging others possible, but the judging itself comes straight out of ego, the need to make ourselves more by making our neighbors less. Of course, it doesn’t work, because as St. Paul says, “By your judgment you convict yourself, since you do the very same things.”

So what’s the remedy for this habit which is so persistent in so many of us? The only place to start is with getting to know ourselves a lot better, and facing up to our own sins, follies, and mistakes. There’s a lifetime of work at transformation and conversion right there. No need to look outside. And as we progress, we need to learn to take delight at each milestone along the way, making no comparisons to anyone else. That’s the way that God looks at us — all on our own, with no comparisons and no useless judgments.

There is one more thing that’s needed, and that is to begin to think like God as we look at one another. In the place of those judgmental thoughts, one question should run through our minds over and over: How can I support you, my brothers and sisters, as you struggle to grow into all that God wants and hopes for you? That question can free us from judging forever! And it can open our hearts to joys we’ve never known — the joys of being builders, just like God.

  • lkeebler

    The scripture you speak of is Romans 2:2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them AND YET DO THE SAME THINGS, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?

    It is a scripture speaking of hypocrisy (passing judgment on someone for doing the same sinful things you are doing!), which I understand could be a hypocrisy emanating from ego. But as Christ condemned the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, He says: Matthew 23: 1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.

    So Christ tells the people clearly to “judge” what the Pharisees say and do and to do as they say but to “judge” what they do and to NOT do it. Christ also tells us in Matthew 23: 13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. 15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

    (John 7:23 Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”)

  • jgeleney

    lkeebler: No he doesn’t. Jesus doesn’t say to “judge” what the pharisees do. He, in now way, uses the word “judge” in the scripture you quote. In Matthew 23:3 Jesus simply says do not do what they do. That doesn’t involve judging at all. Simply, do not do what they do.
    Leave the judging to God.

  • lkeebler

    jgeleney: Jesus does not use the word “judge” as you say but it is clearly implied. Christ tells the people to not only “do not do what they do” but He says “do what they say” and He explains why “for they do not practice what they preach”. He gives them the tools to reason and discern (judge) what to do and not to do. He is asking them to “judge” what the Pharisees are saying in contrast to what the Pharisees are doing and then to reason that the Pharisees are NOT practicing what they preach (so do as they say but not as they do). And I put “judge” in quotes not to say it is in the scripture quoted but to emphasis the word as quoted in this article. I hope this explains it. Jesus (and His disciples) went to great lengths to talk to the people and help them to “judge” many things (and people) in their lives so they would have greater Wisdom, that they would know The Way to Himself.

    Scripture does NOT tell us we should not judge others, if you read the New Testament all the way through you will see very clearly that Jesus and the disciples talk a lot about judging others behavior as good or evil and to follow good (but NOT judging their salvation as only God can do that as He knows the heart and all things). We are to judge right and wrong and good and evil in the world and that includes the actions of other people, so we can follow Christ in all that is Good and Righteous and pleasing to Him.

    For one example of many, Peter says to us: 1 Peter 9 “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” Please tell me how we are to “not repay evil with evil” if we do not JUDGE what is evil or JUDGE what is an insult or even JUDGE what is a blessing. This kind of instruction is everywhere in the Bible. When we are JUDGING the evil action of another person (so as to not return an evil), aren’t we JUDGING the actions of that person (so as not to return them) because we have JUDGED the actions are evil? We must JUDGE the actions of others. Do we say that person is evil? We may judge that person is acting evil and we don’t want to act evil in return.

  • laurak

    “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For the measure with which you measure, will be measured out to you.” Matthew 7:1

  • Joe DeVet

    We clearly have to judge, and if Jesus did not use that word in warning us what not to do, he didn’t use it in the cited texts either–eg, “stop judging”–he used an Aramaic word!

    Point is, he clearly expected his audiences (ourselves included) to judge. He repeatedly prefaced his parables with invitations such as “consider this case…” One can only gauge who is the neighbor in the Good Samaritan story, or who is right and wrong in the story of the vineyard, or what lesson to take from the Prodigal Son story.

    If we don’t judge, we can’t possibly learn practical judgments of conscience. And we most definitely will be hampered in trying to pass on principles of faith and morals to our children–a solemn duty for parents. In particular, if we fall into the leftish axiom of not “being judgmental” we end up moral morons.

    For myself, I believe we are called to judge the objective morality of our own actions, and those around us. Else how could we follow through on Scriptural exhortations to, for example, exercise fraternal correction? But what we cannot judge is the heart of another, their degree of guilt in committing the sins we observe them committing objectively, and whether they are condemned or saved in the end.

  • laurak

    “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned……for the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” Luke 6: 37, 38

    “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For the measure with which you measure, will be measured out to you.” Matthew 7:1

    BOTH gospel writers used the phrase “stop judging”.

    This is from the New American Bible, St. Joseph edition, which is the accepted translation we use at mass.

    I do agree with “evaluating” a situation to discern good from evil for one’s own self, but not to judge others by the acts they commit. Jesus is the only one who knows the whole story and has the right to judge. The woman caught in adultery, the woman at the well, the woman who wiped his feet with her hair, Mary Magdalene, the good thief on the cross are just a few examples of his non-judgmental attitude, which was in contradiction to the normal attitudes of the society in which he lived at the time.

    The only people Jesus really ever got angry with was the pharisees, because they were very judgmental and strict with others.

  • lkeebler

    Jesus doesn’t tell us to not judge but He tells us to judge correctly. May I address this scripture which is so many times used out of context:

    Luke 6: 41 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

    But if we read on this is what we read:

    Luke 6: 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

    So we are not being told NOT to “judge” or in other words “remove the speck from your brother’s eye” but we are being told to be sure we are not blinded by our own sinning (the big plank in our own eyes that we must FIRST TAKE THE PLANK OUT OF YOUR EYE) so that we may “THEN YOU WILL SEE clearly to remove” the speck from your brother’s eye.

    This is scripture is so misused to say we SHOULD NOT JUDGE, when it is clearly saying we SHOULD help our brother “remove the speck” and that we are capable of NOT being a hypocrite but we are capable of removing the plank from our own eye to help our brother remove the speck (why would scripture add the last sentence in Luke 6:42 “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, AND THEN YOU WILL SEE CLEARLY TO REMOVE THE SPECK FROM YOUR BROTHER’S EYE.”)

    The scripture in: ( “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned……for the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” Luke 6: 37, 38 —- “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For the measure with which you measure, will be measured out to you.” Matthew 7:1) are of the same vein, they speak to “judging” but erroneously judging others without discernment or wisdom, without first examining ourselves that we are not “hypocrites” doing the same things and so in our judgment we are actually judging ourselves and so condemning ourselves because we are doing the same things!! So we are NOT judging rightly but still with the “plank” in our eyes. This is not too hard to see or understand IF one will read the whole Chapter in context, but not only the whole Chapter but the whole Book, and not only the whole Book but the whole New Testament… and finally the whole Bible (which can be done over a period of time of course). We can not pull out a few words and then say they are in context for the whole New Testament. It is NOT the whole Truth. We MUST read the whole New Testament (may I say it helps even more to read it over and over and in prayer for help to understand, and too with the guidance of the Church) and God will help you to see His WHOLE TRUTH as He has clearly given it to us.

    What if a friend of your son accused your son of stealing and you found out later the “friend” was stealing too. You see the “friend” has condemned himself also and “the measure will in return be measured” out to him too. We are told to STOP SINNING ourselves. Yes, we are all sinners, there is none Perfect, but we are NOT told to stop discerning evil, to stop judging, but what we ARE being told is to examine ourselves carefully FIRST. (May I add we can look at the “sins” of others and judge the consequences to see and learn that we need to correct our own sins.)

  • laurak

    Thank you for your point of view, lkeebler.