In a mental hospital, an insistent reporter asked the doctor in-charge how they would know if a person is “normal” already. The doctor said: “We do the bathtub test. That is, we fill the bathtub with water and give the patient a spoon, a cup and bucket and ask him to empty the bathtub.”
“Aha! A ‘normal’ person would, of course, use the bucket, right?” asked the reporter. “No! A ‘normal’ person would just pull the drain plug! Would you want a room or a ward?” was the doctor’s reply.
In today’s gospel, Jesus advises us to be compassionate, nonjudgmental, non-condemning, forgiving of the faults we see and generous in our assessment of others. 365 Days with the Lord 2008, a Liturgical Biblical Diary of the Society of St. Paul, said also that in some situations in life we cannot escape the obligation to make judgments even on the moral character of others. Parents, fiancées, employers, civil judges, church administrators and the like, all have this obligation. Clearly evil should be condemned. Jesus Himself does so. Jesus’ teaching warns, however, against usurping the definitive judgment of God, who alone sees the heart. By contrast with God’s judgment, we must recognize our judging as tentative, partial and inadequate.
Be compassionate. Jesus commands us to be compassionate, to be merciful. This means more than imitation. It means that God’s attitudes must become ours. His way of dealing with us must come naturally to us when we deal with others. This is not an option too but a Christian obligation. Why does He command us? It is because there are so many souls who are in need of Jesus’ love and mercy and as His disciples we are called to be living witnesses of His mercy and love. It is our responsibility as Christians to be living images of Jesus.
Be nonjudgmental and non-condemning. Is Jesus trying to scare us? Yes, He is! Somebody said that Jesus wants us to point out the gravity of judging and condemning others and how this can threaten our own salvation. Jesus invites us not to take the path of pride and ego because these only lead us to condemnation but to take the path of virtue. Who wants to be condemned? What sinner doesn’t want to experience God’s forgiveness? This is our calling, to pardon and forgive. Jesus said: “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
Be forgiving of the faults of others. Forgiveness is a serious matter to God. He said that if we don’t forgive others, then we will not be able to experience God’s love and forgiveness in our lives. In fact, the apostle Paul said that when we refuse to forgive, we actually end up giving Satan a foothold in our lives, (2 Cor. 2:11). And so let us forgive.
Be generous in our assessment of others. Perhaps once in a hundred years a person may be ruined by excessive praise, but surely once every minute someone dies inside for lack of praise. St. Paul said: “No foul language should come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for needed edification, that it may impart grace to those who hear,” (Eph 4:29).
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