So I am still recovering from the wonderful experience I had at Delta State at the National Convention of the Federation of Catholic Medical and Dental Students (FECAMDS). Truly, it was a nice experience as I met many lovely people with sweet and beautiful hearts. In a way I experienced anew, the concept of family and the concept of communal work in the various activities organized for our benefit.
Last time I shared with you our experience on the way to Delta, and the things I learnt from our bible sharing that day on ‘Light on Our Minds’, today I’d like to share with you what I learnt on Friday at the thanksgiving mass. The Gospel passage that day was from Luke 6:35-42 and the Priest’s homily was centered on verses 37, 41-42 where our Lord categorically said, ‘don’t be a judge of others and you will not be judged, do not condemn and you will not be condemned…So why do you pay attention to the speck in your brother’s eye, while you have a log in your eye, and are not conscious of it? How can you say to your neighbor, ‘Friend, let me take this speck out of your eye’, when you can’t remove the log in your own? You hypocrite! First, remove the log from your own eye, then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your neighbor’s eye’.
You see, this passage is one we have heard a lot of times, but sadly we do not practice, we rather take it to horrendous extremes and eventually leave the message unattended. The truth is, a lot of us are guilty of this very fundamental message, even in the Christian community. There are many reasons why what our Lord says is important for us. Despite the fact that he is God and all he says is not just true but has direct implications to our own individual life experiences, judging others or condemning them is flawed on many counts. First is, no matter how nice we think we are, no matter how good we think we are, WE ARE NOT PERFECT!!! And that’s the simple truth, the goodness in a Christian is first and foremost a gift, something that he didn’t merit on his own accord and so something he should never see as a right or as something which by his possessing it has made him better or more special or to be preferred by God to other human beings. The truth is we all have weaknesses and our weaknesses may be other people’s strengths and vice versa, but the issue in our day is that certain weaknesses the world or society considers horrible seem to be loudest on our lips and we forget that even the tiniest of iniquities is horrendous to God. (Habakkuk 1:13). At this point the story of the Pharisee and tax collector in prayer comes to mind, despite the fact that we read the scriptures so much and join Jesus in accusing the Pharisees, most of the time we tend towards the Pharisees whom we have joined Jesus in accusing.
One other fact is that WE ARE NOT GOD, we do not know people’s hearts and are ignorant of the circumstances that surround their good or evil actions. If we were surrounded by such circumstances funny enough, we may have been guilty of the same things, so who are we to judge anyone? We who did not decide where we were to be born, by whom and in what circumstances, we who also had little to say as pertains to what happens to us for about the first ten years of our existence, who are we then to judge others? It was a Saint, Philip Neri I think, who said that when he sees a thief, or a ‘public’ sinner, he says to himself, ‘There goes I but for the grace of God’. This type of attitude to life is really very important, it’s a type of attitude that signals humility and therefore is God-like.
This issue is very important too as it practically relates to the issue of sexuality, many people judge and cast aspersions at so-called ‘gays’, ‘lesbians’ and ‘transgenders’ so badly that you think they themselves were saints. Most people, even Christians treat people experiencing same sex attractions like they are demons born from the devil or like their sexual tendencies make them first-line candidates for hell, yet these same people tone down their voices or never even talk at all when it comes to heterosexual fornication, abortion, physician assisted suicide and use of artificial contraceptives, they tone down their voices when it comes to alcoholism, corruption, exam malpractice, forging of results and certificates, bribery, embezzlement and squandering, greed, and other ills. It is now so bad that heterosexual fornication has now taken on a newer dimension, no longer sinful before God’s eyes to something God can ‘easily’ pardon, no longer a sin at all to a REMEDY, it has now become a solution to those who have same sex or disordered sexual tendencies, and this EVEN AMONGST CHRISTIANS!!! So the question is, who are we deceiving?
Part of not judging or condemning others is being Christ to people, and the way of Christ is the way of love, the way of seeking to understand the other, the way of seeking to tolerate others and their defects of body and spirit, the way of being able to distinguish between the sin and the person who commits it, the way of pointing to a person who deserves all love the truth and reality of his weakness or defect of body, mind and spirit while putting ourselves really and practically in the person’s shoes, the way of considering others as more important than ourselves, the way of emptying ourselves, pouring ourselves out for others, the way of true peace and true love. Our Lord’s encounter with the adulterous woman should be our guide in these times, I have heard many people say that when they meet people with same sex attractions, so-called ‘gays’ or ‘lesbians’ or ‘bisexuals’ or ‘transgenders’, they would flee for their lives at worst or at best, tell them of their impending doom. But what did Jesus do to that adulterous woman? He didn’t allow the Pharisees who brought her to stone her, he was going to allow only those who felt they were not guilty of any sin to stone her, and lo, there was none, and so, ‘My daughter has no one condemned you?… Neither do I, go and sin no more’. (John 8:10-11)