You Will be Judged as You Have Judged Others
Monday June 20, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Genesis 12:1-9) Gospel (St. Matthew 7:1-5)
The words of the Gospel today are words that are pretty difficult for people to hear, that we are going to be judged according to the way that we judge, that the measure we use to measure is going to be used against us. So we need to look at our own lives and we need to ask ourselves, “How much have we judged? What is the measure we use in measuring others?” In other words, are we charitable? Are we generous? Not only in what it is that we give to other people but especially in the way that we deal with them in our minds, in our hearts, the way that we talk about other people, the way that we approach them. Are we generous toward them in the way that we judge them, giving them the benefit of the doubt rather than condemning them immediately? These are the things the Lord is getting at.
He points out something that is so ingrained in human nature: that we notice the splinter in someone else’s eye when we have a huge wooden beam in our own. It is so easy for us to be able to see the little, tiny things that someone else does; and we make quite an issue out of what someone else does that may be very small, while we ourselves are being crushed under the weight of huge things that we have problems with. That is the point the Lord is trying to make. Who are we to condemn someone else when we ourselves are being crushed underneath our own sins?
Remember when they brought the woman to the Lord who was actually caught in adultery. It was not just that someone was making an accusation against her; they caught her in the act of adultery. The Lord looked at the people and said, Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to cast a stone. Well, that has not changed over the years. We love to condemn people. We love to judge them. But Our Lord teaches us exactly how we have to deal with things. We have to look at the beam in our own eye and then we can make judgments about someone else in accordance with what we see in our own selves. And when what we see in our own selves is something which is pretty huge, then we realize that we do not have a whole lot we can say about anyone else because for many of them the little, tiny things that we are willing and able to pick up in them are much, much smaller than the things we ourselves have problems with. That is the point Our Lord wants us to consider.
If we are going to measure out to someone else the expectation that they are going to be perfect, if we are going to hold them to a standard which is almost superhuman, then Jesus tells us that is the exact same measure that is going to be used against us. When we stand before God, He is going to say, “Well, here’s what you expected of others – let’s see how you did yourself.” I think if we look at it that way, we are going to realize that we are not going to fare very well on the Day of Judgment.
And so the Lord is asking us to open our hearts with charity to people, that when we are tempted to judge another, the thing to do is find an excuse for them. Maybe it is this or maybe it is that; we do not know why they do what they do, and it is not ours to try to figure it out. What we need to do is give them the benefit of the doubt. We need to extend the kind of mercy that we desire from the Lord. This is not easy for us to do, but this is exactly what Our Lord is requiring of us. He is merciful, and He is asking us in turn to be merciful. Otherwise, He is the Just Judge, and the Just Judge is going to judge according to the way we have judged others. That is a frightening thought. His mercy is a wonderful thing.
So we have the opportunity even now to determine how we want to live our lives. Do we want to live it so that our judgment is going to be merciful? Or do we want to live now in such a way that we are setting ourselves up for a very harsh judgment? It depends on the way that we choose to judge. It depends on the measure that we use in extending mercy to others. Our Lord calls us to be merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful. He calls us to get the beam out of our own eye before we look at the splinter in others. And He tells us that we are not to judge or else we are going to be judged according to the same measure with which we judge others.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.