Vastness of God's Mercy

Scripture (Luke 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."

Reflection

Please do not hear this as a criticism, but as advice and a rewording of what Jesus tells us in today’s reading: mind your own business.  This is a two-fold command.  First, we are to maintain appropriate boundaries.  Judgement and condemnation are destructive to others.  Each one of us longs for belonging and acceptance.  Judgement tells the other person that they are not worthy and beneath us.  They are reduced to something less than who they truly are.  Condemnation reduces them to their sin.  Being condemned denies the possibility of redemption.  It is the antithesis to the mission of Jesus.  Plus, when we judge or condemn others we elevate ourselves to a role reserved for God- an enormous step outside our boundaries.

Second, we often miss the negative impact being judgmental has on our own spirituality.   The fact is judging or condemning someone else is a dodge.  Our judgements are more reflective on ourselves than on the person we have deemed unworthy.  Most often people offer judgement of others in order to avoid looking at themselves.  Putting another person down, making them feel bad about themselves is a way to avoid the introspective work necessary to grow as a spiritual being.  There is enough spiritual work for each of us to tend to in our own lives.  Through judgement and condemnation, we have become inappropriately involved in someone else's spiritual life for the purpose of avoiding our own spiritual work.

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These days there is a lot of anger that is expressed on social media.  It seems as though this anger is often related to the disapproval of the actions of others.  Some in society are disgusted by those who enter into a homosexual union; scream at those who are in favor of abortion; claim those who own guns have blood on their hands or want to discard those with racial, gender or religious prejudice.  We want justice for those who have committed the “sin” we deem to be the worst.  And by justice what we really want is punishment and condemnation.  The problem is that judgement is not ours to give.  Plus, the worst part of judgment and condemnation is that it becomes a roadblock to accepting the mercy and forgiveness of God in our own life and prevents it from being available to others.  If justice is getting what one deserves, mercy is a reprieve.  The life of Jesus shows that God’s justice is mercy and forgiveness. Condemnation exists only as a human definition of justice.  Lent is the perfect time for us to stop screaming for the condemnation of others.  Our spiritual journey is to help us become more Christ-like.  Like Jesus we are to become mercy.  One way is to tend to our own business and allow God’s mercy and forgiveness to transform us. 

Questions

  • How do you need to improve at ‘minding your business’?
  • Who or what do you tend to judge or condemn?  What is it about that person or sin that elicits that response?
  • How has judgement or condemnation of others been a distraction from looking at your own failings?
  • It has been said that a sign of a spiritual awakening is losing interest in judging others.  Where are you in this process?
  • Do you prefer justice or mercy?  Why do you prefer one over the other? 
Our judgments judge us, and nothing reveals us, exposes our weaknesses, more ingeniously than the attitude of pronouncing upon our fellows
— Paul Valery
 
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These Lenten reflections are written by friends of 12plus1, Inc.  Discovery House a service-based gap year experience for participants ages 18-20 will begin August 2018.  Please share this information with an individuals who may want to participate or support this new ministry.

Action 

FAST from judging.

PRAY for the ability to be honest where you need to grow spiritually.

GIVE mercy today.    

Author

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Joe Nettesheim is the founder and director of 12plus1.  He has been involved in Church ministry since 1991.  Besides 12plus1, he teaches part time for Dominican High School and the Cardinal Stritch University Clare Center for Catholic Life.  He is married to Maribeth.  Their blended family consists of 5 children, 2 sons-in-law, 6 grandchildren and TS Eliot, the golden doodle puppy.