Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the account of the downfall of the northern kingdom of Israel, which fell to the onslaught of the Assyrian Empire, which burnt down its capital, Samaria, and ransacked the cities of the Israelites, carrying off their inhabitants to exile in faraway lands of Mesopotamia. This is the punishment that was due for the people who have repeatedly disobeyed the Lord and sinned in various ways.
This is after repeated reminders and helps which God had put in place through His many prophets and messengers, whom He sent to the northern kingdom of Israel, such as Elijah and Elisha among many others. Yet, the people and their kings refused to turn from their wicked ways and from their sins. In the end, their actions and wicked deeds justified their punishment, and God judged them according to those sins.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is the theme of today’s Scripture readings, that is on the matter of judgment, and not just any kind of judgment, but in particular, Christian judgment. And the most common misunderstanding which we have on this time and age is that, we misunderstood the Lord’s words and instructions in this Scripture passage, by saying that the Lord Jesus asked us that we must not judge or should not judge.
That is because we read the Gospel passage literally and understand what the Lord said and not trying to understand what He really wanted to deliver to us. The Lord did not actually say that we cannot judge anybody or anyone at any situation at all. Instead, what He wanted to tell us is that, before we judge, first of all we must always reflect first whether we ourselves have done the same or even worse than what we want to judge.
He said that by whatever standards we judge, then we will also be judged by others. It is quite natural because if we judge others for their wrongdoings, and yet, we ourselves have done the same or even worse deeds, then others who see us and witness our actions and deeds will judge us in the same way. Do we want that to happen to us? Surely we do not want. Yet, this is what we mankind commonly do, day after day, again and again.
The Lord alone is the perfect Judge, for He Himself cannot be judged, for He is all perfect and good, and perfect in everything He has done. By whatever standards that we want to judge God, it is impossible to do so. That is why, God alone is worthy of judging us for our every actions, our every shortcomings, words, deeds and everything that we are. However, once again, this does not mean that we cannot ‘judge’.
The Lord Himself said in another occasion in the Gospels, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with a good judgment.” And St. Paul in his various letters to the Churches also mentioned the importance and the need for sound judgment in the Christian communities. What does this mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that we must judge first and foremost basing our judgment not on our own prejudices or personal preferences, but instead on our Christian faith and truth.
For our personal preferences and prejudices are often not just and right, and in fact, they may be even worse and more wicked than what we want to judge. But the Christian truth and the faith as kept by the Church is unchanging and perfect, as long as we anchor our Christian judgment in God, Who is the source of all truth and Who is perfect in all of His judgments. This is what we must do, and not to judge wrongly.
And ultimately, it is about what we intend to do with the judgment. Most of the time, as is common for us man, is that we judge so as to condemn the other party for the mistakes or the faults that they have committed. But as Christians, we are instead called to judge, not because we hate the person or wanting to bring harm to the person, but instead, because we want the other party to realise the mistake that he or she has made, and make a change or difference for the better.
That is precisely what God has done, as He, first and foremost of all, loves each and every one of us, His most beloved creations, and certainly, He does not want us to be lost to Him, or to be cast down to hell for eternity. That is why He gave us opportunities, again and again, and sent us reminders through various means, from the Church, from even our families and from those who we encounter at various times and opportunities in our lives.
But we also have to remember, that there is ultimately a limit to God’s mercy and love, not that His mercy and love are limited, but rather, our mortal existence in this world is limited. All of us will ultimately encounter death, and that is the moment when we will face our particular judgment, when each and every one of us will have to answer for our every actions and deeds in life, and when our eternal fate will be judged.
If we refused to accept God’s generous offer of mercy, forgiveness and compassion, then it is by our sins, stubbornness and rejection that we shall be judged, and when we fall into the eternal suffering, separated from God’s love and grace forever, it is by our own actions that we are judged. And it is the right and just consequences for our own disobedience and refusal to repent.
Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, while we have the time and opportunity in this world, given to us generously by Our God, let us all make best use of them, by realising just how sinful we have been, and commit ourselves to a renewed faith filled with new love and dedication for God. And we are called to ‘judge’ one another with love, caring for the needs of our brethren, especially those who are in danger of falling into damnation because of their sins.
Hence, let us all not be judgmental in the wrong way, but judge with the right intention and method, so that each and every one of us as Christians may be able to help one another, to persevere through the various challenges and obstacles in life. Let us all pray for one another and help each other in this journey of faith, that we may eventually all find our way to God’s salvation and eternal life. May God be with us, and may He bless us and our endeavours, now and always. Amen.