Saint Luke really knows how to get to the point, “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.” It’s so simple
This past weekend we had a group visiting us in Crested Butte from Denver. There were 25 young adult Catholics that came to CB for the skiing, snow boarding and spending a little time with God.
They arrived late Thursday evening, went to communion service on Friday, Saturday and mass on Sunday. The reason that I say this is because I wanted to establish their credentials as Catholics. That is not to say that you are not Catholic if you don’t do this, but if you do this you probably are Catholic.
Saturday, we had an evening communion service, then a “gourmet taco dinner” before having an evening Holy Hour. As a part of dinner, we all sat around a large group of tables, in the parish hall, and they introduced themselves; their names, where they were from and whether they ski or snow board. That was an obviously important distinction.
After introductions I offered them an opportunity to ask me any question that wanted, “go ahead you can ask any question that you have always been dying to ask an ordained member of the permanent deaconate”. They thought about it for a while and finally asked … if I preferred skiing or snowboarding. Skiing, if you must know.
After which I had the opportunity to ask them a question. So, I asked, “As young practicing Catholics what do they see as the hardest thing about being catholic in the world today?”
The answers were pretty diverse. You can probably imagine what some of them shared; one was a nurse, and it was hard for her to see people suffering and dying without the benefit of knowing our God. Another was very troubled that her brother had turned away from the Church. She loved him so much but could not have a conversation with him about God. And still another expressed frustration with what he saw in the news and the media and our commercial world. He wondered what was “wrong with people today”.
After we went around the room, they turned the question back on me. They asked me what I saw as the hardest thing about being Catholic.
I responded by saying that, for me, the answer was simple. In my life I have no problem seeing the love that the Lord has for me, after all consider where I live. We just look around and see the awesome love of our God, in nature, in community, in family. There are so many ways in which I can see Gods love for me.
The hardest thing about being Catholic is not my being loved, it is my loving of others. I don’t mean loving my family or friends or those that do nice things for me. The hardest thing about being Catholic is loving as God loves. It is loving those that “hate me, insult me, and falsely say all kind of evil against me”. It is showing God’s love to those people “over there”, to those people that are different from me, or don’t believe like me, or don’t profess like me.
Like I said, Saint Luke says it all, “To you who hear, I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” That stuff is really hard. This is not regular love this is super human love. It is a “totally accepting” love, it is a “no questions asked” love. It is the “out of our hands” love.
To the young visiting nurse, it is accepting, whether she knew it or not, the people that she saw needed her to just be there as a supreme witness to the love and healing power of our God. To the young visiting sister, it is not judging and just knowing that her brother is deeply and desperately loved by God. And as long as she remains relentless in loving her brother, she could have faith that the love of God will prevail.
There is a famous quote from Brennan Manning, an American author, that goes something like this: “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”
It is loving as God loves that these three Catholics will be seen as the greatest single cause for Catholicism.
The Gospel reading said, “For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same.”
We cannot forget that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
All of those that believe in Him, not just the ones that we feel are deserving, or the ones who we feel are believing. Not the ones that we think are right or act as we feel is appropriate.
Saint Luke says that the hardest thing about being Catholic is that we are called to, “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven”.
The problem is that I am really, really good at judging people. And if you want to be condemned for something, you really need to come see me first. The hardest thing is to remember that when you point one finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back at you.
We have to remember that we are called to pray unceasingly but to use words only when absolutely necessary. In the daily services this week we read a lot from the letters of Saint James. On Friday the first reading was one of my favorites, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters,
if someone says he has faith but does not have works?
Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
That’s the hard part and Luke makes it sound so easy, “Give, and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”
“I give you a new commandment, says the Lord:
love one another as I have loved you.”
Jesus said to his disciples:
“To you who hear I say,
love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
To the person who strikes you on one cheek,
offer the other one as well,
and from the person who takes your cloak,
do not withhold even your tunic.
Give to everyone who asks of you,
and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
For if you love those who love you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners do the same.
If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners lend to sinners,
and get back the same amount.
But rather, love your enemies and do good to them,
and lend expecting nothing back;
then your reward will be great
and you will be children of the Most High,
for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give, and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”
February 17, 2022
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