01 March 2021

Be merciful. Judge not.

At that time: Jesus said to his disciples, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back."

- St. Luke 6:36-38

Our Lord gave us what we call the “golden rule,” that we should do to others what we would want them to do to us. And He taught us about forgiveness, especially in the prayer He taught us, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

In this brief excerpt from St. Luke’s gospel He repeats and summarizes what we have heard from Him, saying that we should show mercy to others, just as we have received mercy from God. And not just mercy towards those whom we like – not just to close family and friends – but to those whom we don’t necessarily like, even towards those whom we see as our enemies.

Jesus isn’t saying that we must like our enemies, but He does teach us that we must love them. And what is it to love them? It is to wish them good – and not just to wish it, but actually to do what is good.

This means we need to pray for our enemies – yes, even those who are doing evil in the world. And what should we be praying for? For their conversion, that they might turn from their wicked acts.

This is what Jesus means when He tells us not to judge. He’s saying it’s not up to us to consign them to hell. We can certainly judge wicked acts as being wicked. That’s what is known as “discernment.” We can judge an act as being sinful and wicked, but it’s not our job to judge the souls of those who commit such things. That’s God’s job.

And that goes for things we experience every day. If someone is a bully, or acting unjustly, or if someone is making wrong decisions and is doing hurtful things, we can certainly judge their actions as being wrong, but our responsibility is to pray that they turn from these wrong things, and do those things that are pleasing to God.

If we seek the best for others, God will turn that around so that it will be a blessing to us. But if we curse others, or do the same bad things to them, then we bring judgement upon ourselves.

So in all things, show the same mercy and love to others as God gives to us.