Can we really “not judge?”

Monday of 12th week/OT: Daily Readings

Every once in a while this passages comes up, and whether I like it or not I have to live it out. Every time I read it and meditate upon these wonderful words of Jesus, I shiver and their depths. And I understand how easily they can be misunderstood.

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” Sharp saying, I know. But I am asking myself “can we really live by these words? Can we live a life without judging ourselves and others? Would this lead to chaos? anarchy? A society where everything goes and nothing can be forbidden?

We experience judgement. When I was a teacher I had to “judge” my students if they were able to go to the next level. Based on my “judgments” the principal of the school “judged” me if I should return to the school the upcoming year. Judgement is all around. What are we to do: avoid it?

I have to be honest. I do not like to be judged but I catch myself over and over judging others. At times, when I hear people saying that they are not judgmental I realize that what they really are after is not to be judged.

First of all, to judge means to pass on a sentence. It has a juridical tone which makes us “THE” judge of the situation. We tend, after we judge someone, to put that person in a “box.” This is waht we are not supposed to do. We cannot treat the other as though we are the judge, the measure by which everybody else must be evaluated against.

When we judge in this way, we tend to consider the other only superficially, looking at the external. It’s very shallow.

We are called to call out evil when we encounter it, to denounce subjective” truths (as in “It’s wrong because I think it’s wrong,” and “it’s right because I think it’s right, or because i like it.”). If someone is making the wrong choice, we are called to alert, to support, and to motivate the person so that better choices can be made.

This requires something more from me. It requires that I “enter” into the others, look at what is in their hearts, what motivates, what inspires their actions.

Firstly, I have to appreciate the other’s “otherness.” People are different than me. Sometimes, some people inspire “judgment” because they are too different. It’s not their problems, I have to admit; it is I who has a problem accepting other ways of doing things.

I have to understand why they are doing what they are doing: what is in their hearts. Sometimes people do things because they really think it’s right. With love, I can help them to go beyond what they think and see if there are other ways of looking at the same reality. In our culture, we are not taught how to think and many believe that they are correct only because they are louder or make fun of others.

I can evaluate or judge as long as I do not become “the ultimate judge.” I will not be silent about what’s wrong and I will do my best to help others to understand the issues rather than placing them into “judgment boxes.”

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