The Gospel today is used by many to stop Christians from speaking against the evils of society: Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. And when we do speak out, we are called judgmental. Some will even throw what Pope Francis said Who am I to judge. This in fact is a misquote because while Pope Francis did say this, he gave some criteria which people do not quote. He basically said, if someone is seriously seeking the Lord then who is he to judge. Given this context, I agree who am I to judge those who seriously seek the Lord? I do not know their hearts, I do not know their minds nor the anguish their soul when they are conflicted between their desires and the will of God.
But we judge people everyday. We judge whether we can trust a person to work in our house, or work on our car, or take out for lunch. Even those who accuse us of being judgmental are judging us so they are also judgmental.
The First Reading judges the actions of the kings of Israel, who led their people to idolatry and disobedience of the Lord. It condemned what the kings did because their actions led to the destruction of the kingdom. We judge the actions of people and not people. The problem today is people equate the person with their actions, so if we criticize their actions, people think we are criticizing them. But this is not true. A person does not lose their dignity when they do evil things. Their actions are evil, but the person is still an image of God.
God loves us that he wants us to have eternal life, a life of peace and joy with him. Which is why it is important for Christians to speak out against the evils of society. What Jesus condemns here is judging people when we ourselves commit the same thing, or do what is worse. When I do, then I will be judged with the same measure. This is why it is critical for those who attempt to correct others, to look at themselves. If I am to correct others, I must be willing to allow others to correct my actions.
We condemn evil acts because they lead to destruction. If we do not speak out against evil actions, we encourage it and lead people to their destruction. We will also be judged for that failure. Unconditional love is not accepting what others do. Unconditional love is accepting the person, no matter what evil things they have done. It is also speaking out against evil acts, because these lead to death.
Imagine a parent who sees her baby crawl towards a power outlet. A responsible parent will not allow the baby to put her finger in the outlet. The parent is not judging the baby or hating the baby by stopping the baby, in fact, by preventing the baby, the parent shows her love when she takes the baby away.
Unconditional love is divine love. But divine love will not tolerate evil, because God does not tolerate evil. We treat all people with compassion. We welcome them in unconditional love, with divine love, so we speak out against the things they do that do not give them life.
We celebrate St John Fisher and Thomas More today. Henry the VIII wanted to set up his own chuech because the Pope would not allow him to divorce his wife and marry his mistress. All the Bishops in England at that time gave in to the king’s demands, except John Fisher because he judged the king’s action as evil and would not agree to it. Thomas More was the King’s Chancellor and also would not agree because he also judged the king’s action as evil. Both paid for their lives. Thomas More said before he died I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first.
We are God’s servants first, before the servant of any one. We serve God by denouncing evil, but we should not do this at the expense of disrespecting another person. Thomas More showed how he still respected the person who ordered his execution, but he would not bend his knee to a human being because he knows God is his Lord and King.
Lord, help me to be faithful to your Word. Let me see how I can serve you first, before I serve others. Give me courage to speak against evil, even if it will offend people and even if it is at the cost of my life. I serve my neighbors, but Lord, let me serve you first. St John Fisher and St Thomas More, pray for me.