October 12, 2011 - Wednesday of the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Today's Readings

“You condemn yourself by the standard with which you judge another, since you, the judge, do the very same things.” First of all, you judge someone who has offended you because they offended you, even though you actually do the very same thing to others. Who is more upset to be interrupted in conversation than an interrupter? Who hates to be stolen from more than a thief? The irony is often lost on us when we suffer the carelessness and casual selfishness that we ourselves inflict on others.

Do these sins sound minor and unimportant? Perhaps they do when you commit them yourself. Anyone can say, “Yes, I am sure I have interrupted people from time to time; yes, I have taken supplies home from the office and surfed the internet at work, but everyone does these things.” That is no excuse, and you know it, because when you are interrupted, when people are stealing from you and cheating you, you do not say, “But everyone does these things.”

And these words of St. Paul apply nonetheless to what we call “serious sins”. Perhaps you have never killed anyone or committed adultery, so in these areas you feel free to pass judgment. It is true that there are so many species of sins that no one has literally committed every sin in the book. So we call whichever sins we do not ourselves commit “the serious sins” and pass judgment on those who do.

Yet even though we have not committed those specific sins, sin is sin, no matter the species. Behind every sin is pride and often selfishness. To commit any sin a person must possess the pride required to defy God. Most sins also involve the selfishness required to hurt a fellow human being. When we judge another, we are identifying pride and selfishness. If we look in our own heart, we will find the same pride and selfishness there.

Of course, there are sins and there are crimes. As a society, we have to judge crimes and make use of prisons, but if we walked through a prison we would not find there some other kind of human being. There are not good people and bad people in this world; just repentant and unrepentant people. We are all selfish. We are all proud. We all rely on the priceless kindness, forbearance, and patience of God to lead us to repentance.