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Judging others

Gospel Reading: Mt 7:1-5

Jesus said to his disciples: “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.”

We should not take the words of Jesus literally to mean doing away with the courts of law or even judging in the sense of evaluating people. What Jesus points to is condemnatory judgment, especially in interpersonal relationships. This is because the judging person is in no position to condemn: he is either as guilty as or more guilty than the one he judges.

The irony is illustrated by the “splinter” and the “wooden beam.” The contrast in size is made to point out the folly of condemning one’s neighbor for minor infractions on the law while being complacent about one’s graver faults.

Religious hypocrites who want to project an image of being more pious than others can be found not only among the scribes and Pharisees but also among Christian disciples. Following Jesus, Paul tells the Christians not to pass judgment on their neighbors (cf Rom 2:1; 14:4). Indeed, only God, who truly knows the human heart, can pass judgment.

Have you passed judgment lately on other people’s behavior?
How do you feel when others examine closely your behavior?

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