Monday of the Second Week of Lent
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Jesus said to his disciples: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you.”
A tight rope. A few days ago I went out to The Pines for a retreat. I managed to arrive just in time to see the kids on the high ropes course. They must have been at least 20 or 30 feet off the ground. Thankfully, all of them were wearing their hard hats and harnessed to their lifeline (safety cord).
This got me thinking. We need a lifeline on just about every part of our body and in everything we do.
Stop judging and you will not be judged. This is a lifeline. This is something I need to attach my tongue, my heart and my mind to. It is not super naivety, but supreme Christianity. It is Christ’s plea – a type of public service announcement – to get off one’s pedestal and start helping others. It is the Lord’s challenge to His followers.
Stop judging takes a lot of faith, and faith is that behind-the-scenes safety cord that allows us to trust in God’s judgments more than in our own, especially when it comes to such complicated things as other human beings.
Stop judging is a commandment from God. It means He is not confident in our abilities to judge others (but only in their actions), and so He prefers we err on the side of helping rather than hurting.
I need His Commandments – His lifelines – all the time; and not just in high velocity situations, like work and jury duty, but in my day-to-day dealings as a father or mother, spouse and sibling.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. This is another important lifeline. It is the one that prevents me from shutting the door on others.
I can never write-off anyone in my life, regardless of what they have done to me. This lifeline catches me from taking major falls in my life, like abortion.
Abortion is horrible because it is so final. There is no going back. There is no putting back the pieces. Once a human life is taken, it is forever gone. Stop condemning!
Telling someone you never want to see them again is a major temptation, one that is easy to slip onto. But thankfully, by following this commandment; that is, by biting our tongue or holding back on our words, this lifeline can protect us from catastrophic rifts in our relationships. Thank God for God’s lifelines!
Stop condemning is a lifeline tied tightly around our wrists and behind our backs. It prevents us from moving too fast, and with great cockiness. It constitutes the most challenging of all God’s lifelines, requiring deep faith, hope and love. But it is the most obvious of all, especially when we reflect on our relationship with God.
On any given day, the Father could easily condemn us for our inequities. He could easily blast us into hell. But He doesn’t. He refuses to. “I do not take pleasure in the death of the sinner, but conversion…I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live” (Ezek 18:23).
Forgive and you will be forgiven. Finally, the lifeline that is most often used. It’s purpose is similar to that of a backup parachute. It is the lifeline to our sinful pride; that is, when we failed to harness ourselves to the other lifelines out of sheer pride, vanity and sensuality. This lifeline prevents us from hitting rock bottom and never coming back. This is the lifeline known as forgiveness.
This is how it works: Forgive and you will be forgiven.
“Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned. We have sinned, been wicked and done evil; we have rebelled and departed from your commandments and your laws…O Lord, we are shamefaced, like our kings, our princes, and our fathers, for having sinned against you” (Dn 9:4b-10).
“Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins” (Ps. 103:10a).
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (0)