Life & Liberty

LOM 70

LOM 70

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Who am I to Judge? by Fr. Jordi Rivero co-founder of Love Crucified Community.

Fr. Jordi Rivero is co-founder of Love Crucified Community. You may want to visit their very rich website atwww.lovecrucified.com.

Judging and Correcting
Fr. Jordi Rivero, March 22, 2015


Who am I to Judge?
Fr. Jordi Rivero

Pope Francis has alarmed many faithful Catholics by saying more than once: “Who am I to judge?” They interpret his words as an assertion of moral relativism. But this cannot be the meaning of the pope's words because he has elsewhere repeatedly confirmed the Church's teaching on morality. A question remains: why does he say such things, running the risk of being misunderstood? The pope is seeking to shift our attention from judging others to judging self, from condemnation to mercy. This shift is an essential element of the Gospel which is often forgotten.
 

The pope's question “Who am I to judge?” does not deny the importance of objective moral law. It does not address the object (moral law) but rather the subject (my act of judging). Pope Francis is challenging us, as Jesus challenged the pharisees, to shift our attention away from the sins of others and towards our own. Once we recognize we are sinners and that we depend totally on the mercy of God, are we to condemn others?
 

An example of this is found in the Gospel story of the woman caught in adultery. Jesus does not deny her guilt nor the validity of the objective moral law against adultery. Rather, He shifts the attention of her accusers from the woman's sin to their own: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” (Jn 8:7). These words challenge the dormant consciences of those men and they are convicted of their own sins. Once this happened, the could not condemn another person. They stop accusing the woman and walk away. Only God can condemn, yet Jesus, at the end of the story, tells the woman: “Neither do I condemn you” (Jn 8:11). Saint Agustine commented on this Gospel passage: "What is this, O Lord? Do you favor sins, then? Certainly not! But take note of what follows: "Go, henceforth sin no more." The Lord did condemn, therefore, but he condemned the sin, not the sinner." (Tractate 33)
Jesus tells us: “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned” (Lc 6:37). The words of Jesus are for all, even for popes. We should approach our neighbor not as self righteous judges but as fellow sinners who reach out and suffer with them, trusting in God in our path to union with Him.
After Jesus' defense of the women, some probably said that He was defending adultery. Pope Francis is willing to suffer criticism to shepherd us deeper into the heart of Jesus. He is not changing the moral law; he is changing hearts. 

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Little Handmaids of Our Sorrowful Mother
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And Mary said, "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." (Lk 1:38)