This week, instead of writing about this weekend’s readings or quoting from the catechism, I decided to go with a reading that struck me from Monday of this past week. The reading is from Matthew 7:1-5, Christ warning us not to judge and to be careful of the measure with which we measure others, for Christ warns us “…the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.” (Mt. 7:2)
Are we still judging by the world’s standards? Is it still pretty much tit for tat? I have a cousin whose daughter was diagnosed with brain tumors. He said to me once, “You know, I always tried to be what I thought was fair with people. IF they did something for me, I would do something for them. They scratched my back, I scratched theirs, and I thought I was being a pretty decent fellow in doing that. But ever since my daughter got sick, people I never met and never knew have been helping us out. I have been overwhelmed with kindness and there is no way I could ever pay this back to people.”
People are genuinely good most of the time when they see a need; they will try and answer it if they believe it is genuine. But let us take another story, a sort of parable if you will:
“A beggar comes to my door asking for water to quench his thirst. I will not turn him away, because I fear my neighbor might observe my disdain. At the same time, I do not consider the beggar worthy of touching with his lips more than the smallest tin cup in the house, which I quickly fill and brusquely hand him, so carelessly that half the cup spills. The cup is so small and mean, in fact, that I tell him to keep it. In reality, I don’t want to waste my time in such company.
Much time, a whole lifetime, passes, and I find myself in the presence of Christ the King and Judge. I anxiously await my reward: I have always revered God, kept the commandments, observed the Lenten fasts, and celebrated the Church’s feasts with due solemnity. The King hands me back my tin cup, which I had long forgotten and certainly did not expect to see again. Seeing the look of dismay on my face, and with an infinite kindness in his voice that almost has the pleading tone of a beggar in it, Christ says to me, ‘I’m sorry, friend. Even I, the King, have no other cup to give you.” (Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis, Fire of Mercy: Heart of the World, 290)
This judgment scene is certainly a frightening prospect if we are judging and measuring things in a small-minded and small-hearted way. Let us consider another example from a different perspective or rather from God’s perspective. Forgive me for using private revelation in this instance, but it really captures the magnanimity of God’s love and mercy. In revelations to Mother Eugenia back in the 1930’s, God the Father spoke to her of his desire that all people know his love. He makes a comparison, here is the quote: “Listen my children, let us make a comparison, and you will be assured of My love. For Me, your sins are like iron, and your acts of love like gold. If you gave me a thousand pounds of iron, it would be like giving me ten pounds of gold! In other words, with just a little love, great iniquities can be expiated. This, then, is one very light-hearted way of looking at My judgment of My children, men, all of them, without exception. You must come to me. I am close to you! You must love me and honor me so that you will not be judged, or rather that you will be judged with infinitely merciful love.” (Mother Eugenia Elisabetta Ravasio, The Father Speaks to His Children, 24-25)
Any measure we use, sisters and brothers, will be too small. The measure with which we measure must be that of our Lord. Let us judge, or rather not judge, but forgive, as Christ, who even though it was our sins that put him on the cross, forgave us and held no grudges against us.
God’s peace to all of you.
Father Michael Phillippino