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Audio Bible | Lent | Jesus | Judge Not And You Will Not Be Judged

Luke 6: 36-38 – Lent Week 2, Monday (Audio Bible, Spoken Word)

36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:
38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

We are called once more by Jesus to seek perfection as our acts of mercy imitate, insofar as we are able, the mercy of God. We are taught again of the inseparability of our relationship with each other in the body of Christ, in the brotherhood of man, and of our relationship with God.

We are assured of God’s infinite capacity for mercy. Our sins can be forgiven us. This central truth of our Christian faith should illuminate our thoughts and our conduct as Christians. It is because our Father in heaven approaches us with such love and mercy that we can feel empowered to radiate and to share our knowledge of God and all this entails with the whole world.

It is so easy to be harsh and to criticise. So often we pre-judge without knowing the true circumstances of another’s life, and then our most immediate and reflex denigratory thoughts may be overturned to our shame as we suddenly learn the truth about that person. We see the world suddenly from a very different point of view. We were wrong. Our lack of mercy has been exposed.

We might ask ourselves over the period of Lent when we have not shown mercy, when we have judged – when who are we to judge? – and when we have condemned, perhaps only in our minds, another person. We return to the thought, ‘You shall not kill,’ and of the ways in which Christ’s message of love expanded and developed this and the other commandments. It is too easy to slip into bad habits of thought. We pray for the grace to be released from such habits.

It is strange to think, that the small works of mercy we can share with our fellow human beings are, in God’s eyes, worthy of comparison with the infinite mercy which He offers us. We do all that we possibly can – and still it may often seem that it just isn’t enough. This is also a reason for our confidence in our relationship with God. We do what little we can; he gives us everything.

God magnifies our human acts of giving and makes them so much more. We have our five loaves and two fish. If we give them up to God He can feed a multitude.

‘What was the mark of the former Moses? Scripture says, “Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all the men that were on the face of the earth.” We are not wrong to say that the mark of our Moses is the same. In Christ there is present that most meek and lovely Spirit in closest union, that Spirit which is of one substance with him. Then Moses would raise his hands to heaven and call down from there manna, that is the bread of angels. But our Moses now raises his hands to heaven, and brings down food that lasts forever.’ St John Chrysostom

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Do Not Judge Other People And You Will Not Be Judged

Luke 6:36-38 is often cited as a call by Jesus to refrain from judging others, and instead to extend grace and generosity towards them. It may seem deliberate on the part of Jesus that this can seem unrealistic in a world where judgments and criticisms are often the norm.

When Jesus says, ‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged,’ (v. 37) he is not necessarily calling Christians to abandon all critical thinking or discernment. Rather, Jesus cautions against a judgmental attitude that condemns others and fails to extend grace or understanding. As Jesus goes on to say in verse 38, ‘Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.’

In other words, Jesus says that the way we treat others will come back to us. In a sense, it’s just practical advice. If we are quick to judge and condemn others, we may find that others are equally quick to judge and condemn us. But if we extend grace and generosity to others, we may find that the same is extended to us.

Of course, it can be difficult to resist the temptation to judge others, particularly when we feel strongly about a particular issue or behaviour. We may encounter also the objection that a particular behaviour is in some manner evil. Perhaps we are called to distinguish the evil, or sin, in this case from the sinner.

This again may prove profoundly difficult teaching, if we extend the teaching to the worst of the worst behaviours of which we may be aware. Perhaps a most difficult prayer is to pray that hell be empty – and perhaps we reach the limits in that thought of human capacity.

And yet, Jesus’ call to extend grace and generosity towards others is one that is ultimately more life-giving and transformative than a judgmental attitude.

A way to begin is to try to cultivate a spirit of empathy and understanding towards others, even when we disagree with them or find their behaviour challenging. Rather than immediately jumping to conclusions or criticisms, we can try to listen and understand where they are coming from, and seek to extend grace and compassion in our interactions with them.

We may attempt to pray for those who have particularly injured us – and not be disconsolate if we find that our attempt fails.

Ultimately, Jesus’ message in Luke 6:36-38 is a call to a higher standard of relating to others, one that values grace and generosity over judgment and condemnation. While challenging, it is a message of hope and transformation, relating our merely human capacities to God.

Pope Francis Has Addressed The Issue Of Judgement

In a 2015 general audience, Pope Francis said: ‘When we speak badly of others, we destroy them, we wound them, we diminish them. But when we speak well of others, we promote their good and they are encouraged to do good. Let us all ask the Lord for the grace to think before we speak, especially when we are tempted to say something unkind.’

Similarly, in his 2016 apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis writes: ‘The way of the Church is not to condemn anyone for ever; it is to pour out the balm of God’s mercy on all those who ask for it with a sincere heart…Let us not forget that the merciful Lord forgives all sins and wants his children to be able to abandon themselves in his loving arms.’

Famously, when asked about gay people, Pope Francis said: ‘Who am I to judge?’