June 20, 2011 - Monday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Today's Readings

Jesus uses two images in the gospel today. The first is the image of the measure and the second is the image of the splinter. Both images are at the service of the command of Jesus: "Stop judging."

The measure can be considered in two ways. The measure with which we measure will be measured out to us, but what is in this measure? If we consider that it is a measuring cup full of judgment, then we want the measure to be as small as possible. However, if the measure is full of the opposite of judgment, then we will want to have the most generous measure ever.

What is the opposite of judging? Not judging, minding our own business. This is sometimes good advice for us, but we are God's business. Also, judgment comes naturally. We judge what we see and hear. We cannot get through life without making judgments, and God will judge all of us. What should we measure out to temper the judgment?

Perhaps indulgence. We see others doing what is objectively wrong, and we act as if what they are doing is not really so bad. This cannot be right though. God does not have once ounce of indulgence for sin.

Another possibility is allowance. We see someone do what is objectively wrong, and we allow for mitigating circumstances. I love playing the allowance game. When somebody is speeding irresponsibly down the road, I say, "Perhaps they are going to the hospital or to a life-changing appointment." This measure has the distinct advantage of truth. In truth, I do not know enough to judge. I simply insert a reasonable doubt. Allowance is a very important tool to prevent us from judging, but God cannot use it. He knows us through and through. He is never ignorant of our situation or circumstances.

So we should not measure out indulgence, and we should measure out allowance by the bucketful, but greater than allowance is mercy. Mercy is what Jesus is talking about. Mercy has manifold advantages. Mercy never denies that wrong is wrong. Mercy is useful even when a person is absolutely guilty, as we are absolutely guilty of sin.

What is mercy? Mercy is love. When we someone has done wrong, and we love them, we want to help them. If it is possible to help someone, without regard to how they have hurt us, we should. True love is not blind; true love looks with eagle eyes for some possibility of redemption. If we measure out mercy with a fire hose, we can never go wrong.

Forgiveness is pure mercy. We do not wait for someone to pay us back for how they have wronged us. We certainly never take revenge. If there is a glimmer of sorrow for sin, then we should forgive them all for the sake of the little sorrow. If there is not even a glimmer, we should forgive them all since they do not know what they are doing.