Monday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
(II Kings 17:5-8.13-15a.18; Matthew 7:1-5)
In his encyclical Mater et Magister Pope St. John XXIII wrote of three stages for social action. People are to look, to judge, and to act in order to bring about needed change. The process seems to conflict with today’s gospel where Jesus tells his disciples, “’Stop judging…’” What he means, of course, is that they are not to be hypercritical. If people were to stop judging, they might as well forego their intellectual powers.
Hypercriticism is judging another excessively harshly. It gives no leeway for a possible error in one’s perception of another’s way of being. Hypercriticism assumes an air of superiority over others whose motives are not fully known. Tobit is hypercritical when he accuses his wife Anna of stealing a goat in the biblical story. Those who judge all refugees as self-serving are likewise hypercritical.
As Jesus’ disciples, we cannot avoid judging. But we should not judge severely. Rather we should aim at viewing a situation completely, assessing motives fairly, and acting carefully. This process amounts to removing any beam from our eyes and helping our neighbor remove theirs.