Monday June 25, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Genesis 12:1-9) Gospel (St. Matthew 7:1-5)
This reading in the Gospel, which we have heard so many times, is critically important for us if we really want to grow in the spiritual life. "Stop passing judgment, do not look at the speck in your brother's eye when you have a plank in your own." And the Lord tells us that the measure we use to measure with is the measure that is going to be used against us. We need to think about these points.
On the point of judging other people: The saints tell us the last thing that will happen before we reach perfection is that our desire to judge will finally go away. So this is not something that will happen tomorrow or the next day for most of us; but, nonetheless, it is something that we need to work on. We love to judge. We love to compare people to ourselves. We like to think we are so wonderful and that we are, somehow, the standard by which comparison needs to be made; so, we are always judging people against ourselves. The only one we should be judging is ourselves and the standard against which we need to judge is Jesus Christ. If we do not measure up to that, then we have no right judging anybody else.
The Lord reminds us about pointing out the speck in someone else's eye when we have a plank in our own. He is not talking about fraternal charity. For instance, married couples should be pointing out the faults of one another - in charity, however; not in a lack of charity, which is what so often happens. Fraternal charity is not to put somebody down, it is not to try and bring up their weaknesses; but rather, it is to help one another to grow and become saints. If that is the manner in which we do something, that is legitimate; but most often, it is not. Most often, we are seeing the weaknesses in another and we like to gossip about those things. We like to make fun of people, ridicule them, and put them down. The Lord is telling us that what we need to do is recognize that we have much bigger problems than the ones we point out in other people.
Saint John of the Cross, in writing to his future monks, would say: "Live in the monastery as though you were the only one there." In other words, do not look at anybody else, do not pay attention to their faults and weaknesses, just focus on yourself and your relationship with God. Do not worry about everyone else. That is what we need to be about because if we are going to be judging other people, the Lord is going to use that exact same standard against us. If we are going to be looking at other people's weaknesses, the way they dress, what they do, how they act, or what their hair looks like, then the Lord is going to use that same standard against us. On Judgment Day, we are going to be judged the way we have been judging. I do not think most of us would want that. We like to think that the Lord is going to be so merciful when we stand before Him. If that is the case, then we need to be merciful.
That is the point we need to think about. Just think about it in terms of the first reading. What if there was a 75 year-old man, who came to you and said, "The Lord is asking me to go to a place. I have no clue where He is telling me to go, but I am going to be obedient and go anyway." Most of us would probably say, "You are crazy. That does not make any sense. Why would you be packing up all your belongings at this age and going off some place and you have no idea where you are going?" You see the judgment that most of us would probably make against Abram. Yet, we know the blessing God gave to Abram. Again, we cannot judge by appearances. And since we do not know the heart, we cannot judge that either. We need to be very careful and always keep in mind that the measure we use to measure with is the measure that will be used to measure us.
Note: Father Altier does not write his homilies in advance, but relies solely upon the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.