The Holy Gospel according to Luke (Lk 6:36-38)
Jesus said to his disciples: “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.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, help me to listen and understand your words so that I may be more and more the disciple that you intended me to be when you made me.
Encountering Christ: Simple but powerful words from the Gospel. Interesting enough these words are accurate for us to live our daily lives and also appropriate especially during this Lenten season. Judgement, condemnation, forgiveness, and mercy are traits that Jesus taught us by example, and He asks us to do the same to others or reciprocate the act from your sister or brother. These are gifts that we can share with each other and in return we will receive these gifts (“will be poured in our lap”). But why do we have to do something only to get re-paid? Why can’t we just do something and forget about it? Or do something for someone else just to make them smile? Did Jesus do these things because He wanted some type of payment or thanks?
Mercy is a two-way street. It is part of the very essence of mercy that it can only be received if it is also given. In the Gospel passage above, Jesus gives us a truly clear command about judgment, condemnation, mercy and forgiveness. Essentially, if we want mercy and forgiveness, then we must offer mercy and forgiveness. If we are judgmental and condemning, then we will also be judged and condemned. As I said before, simple but powerful words but these words are very clear.
“You do not become good by trying to find good but by finding that goodness that is always within you and allowing that goodness to emerge. But can only emerge if you change your fundamental processes”. – Eckhart Tolle
I deal with these traits daily at Mary’s Village. When these men lived on the streets, they were ignored, judged, and condemned; and were rarely given mercy or forgiveness. Therefore, that is one of the first lessons that we must teach these gentlemen, treat each other as you would want to be treated. We are one family under one roof so learn to respect and love each other. I must say that it is not that easy for some.
Perhaps one of the reasons that many people struggle with being judgmental and condemning of others is because they lack a true awareness of their own sin and their own need for forgiveness. We live in a world that often rationalizes sin and downplays the seriousness of it. We need to rekindle a sense of the seriousness of our sin. This is not done simply to create guilt and shame. It’s done to foster a desire for mercy and forgiveness.
If you can grow in a deeper awareness of your own sin before God, one of the effects will be that it is then easier to be less judgmental and condemning of others. A person who sees his sin is more apt to be merciful to other sinners. But a person who struggles with self-righteousness will most certainly also struggle with being judgmental and condemning.
Jesus didn’t merely ask us to forgive—he asks for our generosity. We are not in this world merely to seek our own salvation. Jesus asks us to reach out and share our God-given gifts with others. An old saying warns, “No one gets into heaven by themselves—everyone must bring a friend.” Every day, we have opportunities to help others get one small step closer to heaven. And we grow closer to Jesus when we help others to grow closer to him.
Closing Prayer: Lord, You have given me many gifts and talents which I sometimes use to serve myself—for my own comfort, entertainment, and pleasure. Help me to learn what mercy really is and to use my gifts to help others, as you intended.
Action of the Day: Use your gifts today and make someone smile.