“Stop judging and you will not be judged.” – Lk. 6:36

This is one of those readings that makes me think to myself, “OK, Jesus, but really?” This Gospel reminds me of the beatitudes in which Jesus flips the expectations, and it becomes those mourning who are blessed, the weak who will conquer, the hungry and thirsty who are the ones most blessed. So then I sit and try to find the truth in the promise.

My experience of life, even in church, is that judgement is everywhere. Our brains in many way, thrive on judgment, making countless calculations of risk and filtering through the many things passing through our awareness in the course of our day. I try to be aware of this phenomenon as it affects little things - like forgetting to smell the milk before drinking, or for that matter, checking that it’s actually milk and not heavy cream. (Yeah, that was a thing that happened.) I also try to rigorously test my presumptions and prejudices more seriously to try to see and treat others as Jesus would have me do. This effort has been a great source of humility and blessing over the years - usually in that order.

No matter how rigorous my efforts though, it hasn’t been my experience that others’ judgment has reciprocally subsided, at least not as much as I’d hope. SO perhaps I haven’t progressed as much as I would have hoped...that’s always a possibility. But, I don’t think others’ actions are all tied to our own action either.  Certainly, a great many faithful Christians right now are facing great judgment, condemnation, and suffering unjustly. While I do think that when we reflect Jesus it has real effects upon how people treat us, I think something deeper is happening too. You perhaps, like me, find that injustice or mean behavior that we didn’t instigate - in ways far less serious than many of our suffering brothers and sisters - is visited on us. So what does today’s Gospel say to that?

In the face of this, I find that lessening of suffering comes not so much from the actions of others, but from a change of heart in me. A less profound truth of our times seems relevant: “haters gonna hate.” As I acknowledge this truism, this reading calls me to one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy: to bear wrongs patiently. Perhaps the promise that we will not be judged or condemned won't free us from the verdicts of the haters, but when Jesus stands with us, we aren’t subject to the sentence, or in the most extreme cases, that the sentence is not stronger than salvation.

Jason Coito