Judging Like the Judge

No marriage is truly successful, I’ve heard it said, unless husband and wife are each other’s best critic. And, it’s conventional wisdom that effective parenting involves establishing fair but consistent boundaries for children. In both of these activities, making sound judgments is an essential component.

This is good to remember when considering today’s gospel. We do need to judge others’ actions; Jesus doesn’t deny this. What he does insist is that we examine our motives before we do.

We usually can’t judge a person’s motives. We can judge what they do, however. But before we do, we need to consider our motives. That’s because when we judge, we assume a measure of moral authority. And that carries with it great potential to hurt the person whose actions are being judged. We know this, and that’s why criticisms are frequently employed as weapons in arguments, tools of manipulation, or expressions of our own insecurities. It’s true that we most criticize in others those things we dislike about ourselves.

The only proper motive for making a judgment is love. When we judge another’s actions, it should be with the intention that they mature as a human being, grow in holiness, and that our relationship with them might deepen. That’s loving judgment. Just as God loves, when he judges us.

Readings for today’s Mass: http://www.usccb.org/nab/062011.shtml

Photo Credit: Allie_Caulfield via Creative Commons