Bishop Paul Donoghue, celebrant of First Communion held on Sunday at the St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Avarua. Photo: Supplied/22062310
Reflect today on being merciful and on being judgmental in your life – which one is greater? What is your primary tendency? Bishop Paul Donoghue of the Catholic Church writes.
“Mercy and Truth have met, justice and peace have embraced.” (Psalm 85:10)
I preached last Sunday, I found myself explaining how previously we valued the
expression, “Be a gentleman”. During my childhood it was something all fathers drilled
into their sons. The principal of the college I attended was constantly using
the expression, as he explained what it meant to be a gentleman in regards to respecting
women, manners at the table or while playing sport, particularly when one lost.
Yet today we rarely hear any mention of the expression “Be a gentleman”. Is it
no longer important or valued?
example of a modern-day change would be that previously if the doctor said we
needed a vaccine, we simply rolled up our sleeve and got the jab. Never did we or
our parents question the doctor. Yet today in the roll out of vaccines for
Covid-19, we were bombarded with material proclaiming that getting the vaccine
violated our basic rights. Or we were told that the pharmaceutical companies saw
it as a way to make money by spreading the disease. Even though it was placing
many people’s lives in danger if they were not vaccinated, people were prepared
to undermine science and medical advice. It seems it is now okay to falsify the
this article, I would like to express my opinion on another change that has
occurred in society – that it is alright to be harsh and critical of others in
public, no matter the consequences. In other words, we can speak on “talkback
radio” or write letters to the editor to the newspaper, often using a pseudonym,
so we can’t be identified or make comments on Facebook or other social media
pages which can destroy someone’s good name.
address this issue, I suggest we ask ourselves a fundamental question – “Am I
judgemental in how I view others?”
the answer is “Yes,” then being judgmental can be a difficult thing to shake. Once
someone falls into the habit of regularly thinking and speaking in a harsh and
critical way, it can be very difficult for them to change. In fact, once
someone starts down the road of being critical and judgmental, chances are that
they will continue down that road becoming more critical and more judgmental.
is one of the reasons Jesus addresses this tendency in such a strong way.
“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.” Matthew 7: 1 -2
the passage above Jesus states, “You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from
your eye first…” These words and Jesus’ strong condemnation of being
judgmental is not so much because Jesus is angry or harsh toward the judgmental
person. Rather, He wants to redirect them from the road they are heading down
and help to free them of this heavy burden.
Jesus makes clear the impossibility of passing judgment on
others without incurring it ourselves. We can only judge by using the same
measure we have for ourselves. We can only see another with the same eye or point
of view we decide is the standard for judgment. The tiny splinter in my eye is
so close to me, it appears to be a plank in another’s eye. Subjectivity is
bound to overwhelm all our judgments, but we will never know it unless we
factor in our own prejudices. It is better not to judge at all. Or to face
the verdict, “It takes one to know one.”
an important question to ponder is this: “Is Jesus talking to me? Do I
struggle with being judgmental?” Again if you are answering “Yes,” fear not and
do not get discouraged. Seeing this tendency and admitting it is very
important and is the first step toward the virtue which is opposite of being
judgmental. The virtue is mercy. And mercy is one of the most important
virtues we can have today.
seems that the times we live in demand mercy more than ever. Perhaps one of the
reasons for that is the extreme tendency in our world culture, to be harsh and
critical of others. All you need to do is read a newspaper, browse social
media, or watch the nightly news programmes to see that our world culture is
one that is continually growing in the tendency to analyse and criticise. This
is a real problem.
good thing about mercy is that God uses either our judgment or our mercy
(depending upon which is more manifest) as the measuring rod of how He treats
us. He will act with great mercy and forgiveness toward us when we show that
virtue towards others. But He will also show His justice and his judgement when
this is the path we take with others. It’s up to us!
today, on being merciful and on being judgmental in your life. Which one
is greater? What is your primary tendency? Remind yourself that being merciful
is always far more rewarding and satisfying than being judgmental. It produces
joy, peace and freedom. Put mercy in your mind and commit yourself to seeing
the blessed rewards of this precious gift.
prayer below is attributed to a Presbyterian Church member addressing the MercifulLord, and asking the Lord to fill our hearts with
mercy. In particular I am hoping that, in the next six weeks, we will
carry out our political campaigns and elections in a respectful manner as befits
gentlemen and gentlewomen.
Holy God, we know we have fallen short.
We turn our backs when we could embrace.
We remain silent when we could speak.
We speak when we could listen.
We judge when we could seek understanding.
We cling when we could give.
Forgive us, O God, for focusing solely on ourselves and help us to continue to
grow into the people you created us to be, through Christ our Lord. Amen.”