The Short-circuiter of Mercy, 12th Monday (II), June 20, 2016

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Monday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time, Year II
Memorial Mass for Gus Tagac, Uncle of Sr. Amata Filia
June 20, 2016
2 Kings 17:5-8.13-15.18, Ps 60, Mt 7:1-5


To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 


he following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • Today in the Gospel Jesus speaks to us about one of the most important conditions for us truly to be transformed by this extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. Jesus tells us,  “Stop judging that you may not be judged,” promising us that “as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.” For us to be able to receive mercy, we must be merciful, and Jesus knows that for us to be merciful, we have to stop judging our brothers and sisters.
  • Before we explore that truth more in depth, because today’s passage is one of the most misinterpreted in our time, let’s get out of the way what it doesn’t mean. By his words today, Jesus isn’t indicating that we shouldn’t judge between right and wrong and leave all of that judging exclusively to God. God has given us the moral law precisely so that we can make moral judgments about actions. In today’s first reading, we see how God himself judges the actions of the Israelites at the time of the Assyrian invasion. Israel in the north and Samaria in the center of the Holy Land were both run over by the Assyrians “because the children of Israel sinned against the Lord their God,” the Second Book of Kings tells us, “and because they venerated other gods.”  What they did was wrong. God saw it and wants us to see it. When we see people worshipping other gods, when we see people taking advantage of the vulnerable and innocent, when we encounter people telling baldfaced lies knowing the truth, when we encounter terrorists taking guns and trying to murder hundreds of people in a nightclub, he wants us absolutely to pronounce, as he does, that such actions themselves are evil.
  • So while we can judge actions, what Jesus forbids is for us to judge people, but to leave that to God. While we can see that externally their action conforms or not to what God has taught us or in conscience we know to be good or evil, we can’t judge the agents, since we can never know everything that is going on inside of them. We don’t know all the interior facts. This is true for deeds that are clearly wrong: we cannot know why a person, for example, is stealing, or even why a soldier is hammering an innocent carpenter’s legs and feet to a Cross. It’s also true for deeds that are clearly good: we cannot know if someone giving alms to the poor is doing it for vainglory, if a man defending an elderly woman being attacked has ulterior motives, if a person showing up for Eucharistic adoration is doing so to hide from responsibility, family members or even the police.
  • Instead of judging our neighbor, Jesus wants us to love our neighbor and show mercy to our neighbor. To do that, he tells us, we need humbly to recognize that often the temptation to judge our neighbor comes from a desire to deflect the attention from our own thoughts, behavior and sins. He says, “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.” Jesus recognizes that many times we judge our neighbor as a superior to an inferior, failing to grasp that we ourselves are sinners, too. He wants us to adopt a totally different perspective, that when we see our neighbor’s errant behavior, to use it as an opportunity to examine our own, because often we’re guilty of similar behavior. Compulsive judgmentalism distorts our perception and hardens our hearts. He wants us to take out our own planks. This obviously is a call to examination of conscience, contrition, sacramental confession and conversion. Once our planks are gone, then we can start to see with the eyes of faith, the eyes of mercy, the eyes of charity.
  • Jesus wants to help us to see clearly so that from there we can really love and help our brothers and sisters, especially when they need it. Once our planks our removed — once we recognize that we, too, are sinners who have needed to be forgiven by God — that we can with humility share the mercy we’ve received with others, helping them to see that their vision may be distorted, helping them to correct behavior when it is choosing darkness rather than the light. But after we’ve seen our own sins and weaknesses, we’ll be able to help our neighbor not as an enemy seeking revenge, but as a doctor applying a cure, in many cases the same medicine we’ve needed and received from God. The Pharisees used to criticize harshly from above. Jesus wants us to measure out the measure of mercy we’ve received from God.
  • Every morning at Mass the Lord Jesus gives us an eye check up here. He purifies our vision in the truth of his word and then helps us to keep our eyes on him, the Lamb of God who takes away our sins and the sins of the world so that we may see clearly, see things as they really are, see things as he sees them, and go out to help others see, too. As we prepare to enter into holy Communion with him through the reception of his body and blood, we remember that he seeks not only to help us remove all obstacles from our vision, but to give us an eye transplant so that we see as he does, looking on the crowds with compassion, not judgment, and seeking to bring them to the unobstructed beatific vision to which he has done so much to make possible for us.

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1
2 KGS 17:5-8, 13-15A, 18

Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, occupied the whole land
and attacked Samaria, which he besieged for three years.
In the ninth year of Hoshea, king of Israel
the king of Assyria took Samaria,
and deported the children of Israel to Assyria,
setting them in Halah, at the Habor, a river of Gozan,
and the cities of the Medes.This came about because the children of Israel sinned against the LORD,
their God, who had brought them up from the land of Egypt,
from under the domination of Pharaoh, king of Egypt,
and because they venerated other gods.
They followed the rites of the nations
whom the LORD had cleared out of the way of the children of Israel
and the kings of Israel whom they set up.And though the LORD warned Israel and Judah
by every prophet and seer,
“Give up your evil ways and keep my commandments and statutes,
in accordance with the entire law which I enjoined on your fathers
and which I sent you by my servants the prophets,”
they did not listen, but were as stiff-necked as their fathers,
who had not believed in the LORD, their God.
They rejected his statutes,
the covenant which he had made with their fathers,
and the warnings which he had given them, till,
in his great anger against Israel,
the LORD put them away out of his sight.
Only the tribe of Judah was left.

Responsorial Psalm
PS 60:3, 4-5, 12-13

R. (7b) Help us with your right hand, O Lord, and answer us.
O God, you have rejected us and broken our defenses;
you have been angry; rally us!
R. Help us with your right hand, O Lord, and answer us.
You have rocked the country and split it open;
repair the cracks in it, for it is tottering.
You have made your people feel hardships;
you have given us stupefying wine.
R. Help us with your right hand, O Lord, and answer us.
Have not you, O God, rejected us,
so that you go not forth, O God, with our armies?
Give us aid against the foe,
for worthless is the help of men.
R. Help us with your right hand, O Lord, and answer us.

MT 7:1-5

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Stop judging, that you may not be judged.
For as you judge, so will you be judged,
and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.
Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye,
but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?
How can you say to your brother,
‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’
while the wooden beam is in your eye?
You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first;
then you will see clearly
to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.”
Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 9.16.27 AM