Have you ever heard the verse “Judge not lest you be judged?” Do you think that this verse is telling us that we should not ever judge our neighbour? This comes from Matthew chapter 7 verse 1.
If we were to isolate that verse it would seem to tell us that we should not judge our neighbour at all. But if we go on and read the whole passage we see that that is not what God is saying at all. In fact what God is telling us is that we must judge our neighbour when we see him in sin but when we do so we must do so fairly and with love. We must judge our neighbour and correct him with Christian charity. Matthew goes on to tell us in Chapter 7 verses 2-5 “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged [that is to say that if we judge with an evil heart or dark intent, God’s judgment of us will reflect that; however, if we judge fairly with honesty and justice with the intent to correct erroneous behaviour as we are obliged to do, God’s judgment of us will reflect that, too.
Matthew goes on to warn us against pointing out the sins of others while we ourselves are in greater sin because this then makes us hypocrites. Jesus gave this message while He was talking to the multitudes warning them not to become like the Pharisees and other hypocrites who thought they were above sin. Look at John 7:24. There, Jesus tells us to judge, but to do so righteously. Righteously means to use the Truth of His Word to discern sins and not to judge by appearances only. In fact, in 1Cor. 6:2-3 Jesus compels us to judge. We must judge otherwise we could not tell good from bad, proper from improper, righteousness from evil.
But how are we to judge? That is the key. How are we to judge? We are to judge behaviour, not the individual; the deed not the doer; the choice not the chooser. The individual, the chooser, is accountable for his/her /choice, but we are to fairly judge the deed/choice that the individual has made when we make our judgment. So while we must judge one's behaviour we must also try to nurture the goodness in an individual: we have to be like Jesus and separate the deed from the doer. And to continue, Matt 7:6 says. "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces."
Tell me… How are we going to know as undesirable the behaviours of "dogs" and "swine" if we do not judge? Yes, we do have the right and the authority to judge the behaviour of others as long as we honour and obey God’s Word and in fact we are obliged to do so. Now, we know that Jesus is the only one who will judge whether or not someone is or is not saved. Neither you nor I nor anyone else has the authority to say whether another person will be saved. The Church has never condemned anyone by name to hell. Only Jesus can make that judgment since only He can give Salvation.
Jesus did not say “Judge not - lest you be judged” in order to prevent us from correcting others. In fact just the opposite is true. We are required, no, obliged to correct others. In the book of the prophet Ezekiel chapter 33: 8: God says “ If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way (and tell me. how can we do this if we do not judge his way to be wicked?) that wicked person shall die in his iniquity (in other words he shall be condemned) but God says, his blood I will require at your hand.” In other words if we see our brother living in sin and we say or do nothing, we shall be held responsible for his condemnation. If we see some evil going on and we say nothing then we shall be held liable for that evil.
We are our brother’s keeper. However, when we correct others we need to ensure that our sin is not greater than the one we are trying to correct. A couple of weeks ago we were reminded that we have free will and that we can choose to repent, to turn away from our sin and to follow God or we can choose to remain in sin and stay on the path to condemnation.
That same invitation to freely choose to follow Christ is repeated this week when we listened to the first reading - a proclamation from the book of Sirach: “If you choose, you can keep the commandments, and they will save you. If you trust in God, you too, shall live. And to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice. The Lord, has placed before you fire and water; stretch out your hand for whichever you choose. Before each person are life and death, good and Evil and whichever one chooses, that shall be given. For great is the wisdom of the Lord; He is mighty in power and sees everything; His eyes are on those who fear Him, and He knows every human action. He has not commanded anyone to be wicked, and He bas not given anyone permission to sin.”
How can we in our day apply these words? What are the great public sins of our day? First of all there is contraception. The word contraception means against life. There are those who would try to tell you otherwise but for 2000 years the church in her doctrine has always taught that contraception is an evil which must not be practiced. The use of contraception was always wrong and will always be wrong. Many Christians who disagree and contracept will still have to answer to God for their failure to follow the truth.
Abortion – this is one of the great evils of today – the killing of millions of innocent human beings and it stems from the first evil – contraception.
Euthanasia and assisted suicide – two other great evils that stem from the over-population myth. Overpopulation is a myth – did you know that you could gather every person who is alive today on the face of the earth and put them all into the Sate of Texas and each person would have 1/3 of an acre. We couldn’t even touch hands. Euthanasia and assisted suicide. It is quite conceivable that given the mind-set of our present government – it is possible that in the very near future both of these evils will end up with no restrictions on them either.
All of these evils we must speak out against. We are obliged to if we wish to inherit the kingdom of Heaven. In today’s Gospel Jesus said to His disciples “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill it.” In doing this Jesus is drawing our attention to the spirit behind the law. He emphasizes that until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.
Jesus warns us that whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be the least in the kingdom. But whoever obeys them and teaches them, will be called great in the Kingdom of God. Jesus goes on to warn us further that we must avoid the attitude of the scribes and Pharisees who accurately taught and interpreted the law, but did not live by that law in their own lives. They were hypocrites. They demanded strict observance of the law by others while keeping the law only in appearance themselves. By keeping the letter of the law the scribes and Pharisees felt that God owed them salvation. However, Jesus says that such persons will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
In today’s world Jesus would say that we have to be careful and observe all the commandments; however we too must not be hypocrites. For example, there are those who observe the law to attend Mass on Sunday because it is their obligation to do so but on the other hand are far away from God during the week. Like the scribes and Pharisees those people will also never inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. Why? Because they worship God for appearance only and not with the hearts.
Jesus said we must be the Salt of the earth and the light to the world. We must set the good example for others and not sit back and let others do the work of promoting the kingdom of God. Make no mistake, no matter what anyone else tells you, we will be held liable if we do not speak out to correct our brothers and sisters who have strayed from the truth. As Christians we must speak the truth in a firm but charitable manner. Two things I want to clarify about abortion because it seems that not all of us know the truth about this evil.
The first thing is that it is true that abortions are extremely costly to our already over strained health care system. That’s right. The government won’t pay for your new teeth or your eyeglasses or even for a much needed hearing aid – but it is absolutely true that your tax dollars are being used to kill babies. Your tax dollars are used to fund abortions in Canada. All of this at a time when tax dollars for health purposes are at a premium. Just think of how many millions of our tax dollars are being used to cruelly snuff out innocent lives instead of saving lives? And all of this done in my name and in your name. My and your tax dollars pay for every abortion that is committed in Canada. We both are paying for this evil - so please don’t anyone try to tell me that we don’t have the blood of innocents on our hands. We may think that we are able to wash this innocent blood off of our hands but I’m sure it is still visible to Almighty God.
Secondly, Canada is the only western so called civilized country in which there is no legal restrictions against abortion. That’s right; there is no law whatsoever restricting abortion. Not even partial birth abortion. Partial birth abortion is where the baby is partially being born but not quite born as the abortionist kills it. I will spare you the gruesome details as to how this takes place but suffice it to say that you can legally have an abortion in Canada right up to and during the birth of the baby.
Only in Canada can you get away with this type of legal murder. Can you imagine what we would do to the person who was this cruel to an animal? I had the opportunity to hold my grandchild recently just after he was born and it broke my heart to think of those little babies who wouldn’t make it that day. And all this is perfectly legal in our beloved Canada. That’s right. In Canada there is no law restricting abortions even partial birth abortions. That went away with Pierre Elliot Trudeau. And our present Prime Minister Stephen Harper is on the record as saying he won’t even discuss abortion let alone allow any laws restricting it.
In Germany right after the Second World War there were those who pled innocent saying that they didn’t know that millions were being sent to the gas chambers. They said they would have done something had they known. We won’t be able to use that excuse when we come before Almighty God, will we? If we didn’t know this before, we know it now and the big question is what are we going to do about it?
As Christians what is our responsibility in the light of the gospel? What are we going to do to stop this slaughter and what are we going to do to try to stop our tax dollars from being used for this genocide? We might say “But what can I do? I am only one person?” We need to act to enlighten those around us about this slaughter and about how our tax dollars are being used for such an evil purpose. We need to act and we need to act now. We need to do it in a firm but Christian way. Perhaps we can begin by enlightening our members of parliament and all of our neighbours around us. Sure it might cost us some heartache and grief but you need to be alive to experience that, don’t you?
In Matthew 5:10 Jesus tells us “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” And we need to recognize that there are many mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, brothers and sisters out there who have been victimized by this system and are suffering and we need to do something about that too. The powers that be have made certain that all of us remain in the dark. Isn’t it time we accepted our Christian responsibility and stepped out into the light of the truth? As an example of what we can do - I want to close by reading this letter. It was sent this week as a letter to the editor of the Rocky Mountaineer. I am proud to say that it was written by one of our parishioners and is a wonderful example of proper judgement of deeds and of correction in the light of the Christian Gospel.
With her permission and your indulgence I will read it to you now.
With all the recent uproar in the media regarding the “massacre “of sled dogs in the Vancouver area, I have been compelled to write about my own concerns. I am an animal lover, and I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I am not. However, I am saddened by the fact that much of our population is very quick to “jump on the bandwagon” regarding cruelty to animals, and wanting to punish the people responsible for these acts of violence. At the same time, many people are oblivious to our own actions (or lack of action) which takes the lives of millions of innocent unborn children every year in our own supposedly civilized country. Horses, cows, dogs, cats and even rats are seemingly more important to protect than our human offspring. I’m sure you have all heard the outcry from “animal rights groups” who are outraged by the use of animals for research, even when done to help find cures for human diseases. Yet, you don’t hear the same kind of protests from the public regarding experiments going on using newly aborted human fetuses. Abortions are extremely costly to our health care system and are often used as one choice for birth control. “As the highest ranking animals of the animal kingdom, we humans are the only ones who have mothers who kill their own young, and people who openly encourage mothers to kill their own young”.
Isn’t there something wrong with this picture?
You and I both know that there definitely is something terribly wrong with this picture. Canada is our country, and it is a great country that we should all be proud of. We need to let our elected officials know that we love our country and this is not the legacy we want to leave to our children and grandchildren, if we have any.
The powers that be are trying to keep us in the dark, let’s write to them and tell them that we have had enough of that and force them to re-open the topic of Abortion to public debate every chance we get. It’s our country and it’s our duty as Christians. I believe that it is the very least we can do to try to stop the slaughter of the innocents.
Deacon Bernie Ouellette