In All Things

            We’ve all heard it. Heck, most of us have thought it, if we haven’t said out loud. “I hope he/she burns in hell!” I confess the thought has crossed my mind more than once.

            Funny, if we think about it, these kind of thoughts can range from heinous serial killers to that woman who cut us off in traffic this morning. So much for the concept of Christian forgiveness, right? Why does finger pointing seem to be so much a part of our natures? We simply have this perverse need to blame the other guy.

            I’ve come to view judgment of others as one of those “root sins’ we are often asked to unearth as we exam our consciences each night. I’ve thought about it quite a lot and here’s an analogy that helped me with the concept.

            Like many of you, I enjoy gardening and working in my yard. Nothing annoys me more than waking up and finding that a big, old, ugly weed has sprung up, seemingly overnight. Now I could take the clippers and nip that weed off at ground level, but we all know what would happen; that weed will grow back with a vengeance, and most likely spawn other weeds. A good gardener knows the only solution is to grab the unwanted menace and pull it out by the root.  

            Root sin is like that. We can try to cover it up, ignore its existence, but unless we proactively work to eliminate it at its core, it will spread into other areas of our lives and most likely other sinful behaviors will start to appear.

            It’s like that when we give in to making ourselves the judges of others. Picture it: it’s Judgment Day – with a capital ‘J’. We’ve positioned ourselves right there front and center. We point, we jump up and down, we yell: “You go, Lord. Give ‘em hell!” (Literally!) We become obsessed – we revel – in the sins of others, until it’s our turn under the microscope. We’ve neglected to notice that “plank” sticking out of our own eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)

            When we are so quick to judge those around us, we begin to foster mistrust and suspicion. In our rush to judgment, we start to create divisions, fuel hatred, inflict pain, often playing a part in destroying relationships.

            In John 15:12-14, Jesus tells us: “This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you. There is no greater love than this; to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.”

            The last great act Jesus did as he hung dying on his cross was to forgive those who literally and figuratively drove those nails into his hands and feet. He left us with this powerful message of forgiveness, which, if we dare to call ourselves Christians, should be burned into our very souls. This kind of forgiveness is a process, not just stingy words saved for a privileged few that, in the end, fails to touch our very souls, our hearts.

            Jesus makes it fairly clear that it is not our place to judge. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Pardon, and you shall be pardoned.” (Luke 6:37) He’s much more tactful, but isn’t Jesus saying, “God is God and you’re not.”

            When we develop the ability to look past skin color, religion, outward appearance, different cultures, varied political views, possessions or lack thereof, and personality quirks, we start to mine the very depths of a person and are able to see them – love them – simply because they are. When we realize that humankind holds much more in common than what is different, we begin to grasp that concept of the meaning of unconditional love.

            As the saying goes, hate the sin but love the sinner. Or, as St. Matthew write in 7:1-2: “If you want to avoid judgment, stop passing judgment. Your verdict on others will be the verdict passed on you. The measure with which you measure will be used to measure you.”

            Debbie Bosak is the former editor and general manager of the Northwest Indiana Catholic. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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