Meditation is an ideal way to pray. Using God's word (Lectio Divina) allows me to hear, listen and reflect on what the Lord wants to say to me - to one of his disciples - just like He did two thousand years ago.
The best time to reflect is at the beginning of the day and for at least 15 to 30 minutes.
Prior to going to sleep, read the Mass readings for the next day and then, in the morning, reflect on the Meditation offered on this website.
I hope these daily meditations allow you to know, love and imitate the Lord in a more meaningful way.
God bless you!


Monday, June 23, 2014

Mt 7:1-5 Measuring Sticks

Monday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

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."

Measuring stick.  The destruction of Israel 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" (cf. 2Kgs 17:13-15a).  In other words, the children of Israel used their own measuring stick when it came to faith and morals.

Often we think of the Lord's commandment "Stop judging!" to mean "Stop sharing your faith with others" or "Mind your own business."  But given today's readings, I think it could easily mean something like: "Stop judging things according to your own measuring stick."

Take for example the sacrament of marriage.  A few days ago I read that the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted in favor of allowing same-sex marriages.  This Church has lost nearly half its members in the past forty years.  I am sure it will lose another half this coming year.  Regardless, here is a Christian community that has decided to judge the morality of same-sex marriage according to their own measuring stick (votes), and not by Jesus Christ (The Word) and His Church (The Way).

The Lord warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and seer, "Keep my commandments and statutes..."  And yet, the temptation throughout the history of mankind has always been the same:  to judge people and things according to our own measuring stick.

So what is wrong with that? 

The fickleness of humans.  People are constantly changing their minds.  And they do so especially when they are under a lot of emotional stress, financial pressure or personal guilt.  Take for example the case where someone you love has broken the law.  It's easy to feel a lot of sympathy for them, or turn a blind eye for them, and make up a ton of excuses for them because you love them or because you can identify with them.  It's not at all difficult to avoid these feelings when the person is far removed from you or you downright hate them. 

As you can see, our measuring stick (or scale) can easily shift from one end to the other, according to personal feelings rather than God's commandments.

Therefore, the problem isn't that there is too much judging going on in the world.  The problem is that it can become highly personal and emotional. 

So the question is:  By what measuring stick are you judging?  Your own or Christ's.  

Let's be prayerful about it, otherwise we might find ourselves on the wrong side of human history and salvation history. 

18 comments:

  1. Father Alfonse - It's not only the Presbysterian Church that's seen a decline in membership but Christian churches in general. Perhaps the Presbyterian Church's "measuring stick" is based on the current political climate since more and more states are legalizing same-sex marriage. Why not jump on the bandwagon and try to gain members by offering to marry gay couples? Steal members from the Catholic Church. Harvest new members from the Evangelistic Christians who vehemently oppose homosexuality and gay marriage.

    I think today's measuring stick is based on cultural bias. If you're a gay person, then you'll judge the Catholic Church as being homophobic. If you're a rich person, then you'll judge the poor person as being uneducated and lazy, reasoning that's why they can't make money. If you're a high ranking male in Islamic culture, then you will judge a woman who converts to Christianity as a traitor and a blasphemer. (Thank God Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman sentence to die for apostasy, has been released! She's been on my prayer list for a while now!)

    Measuring sticks are relative to societal norms. Just think of the Salem Witch trials and how the poor women were "judged" as being witches when they were simply outcasts in society. (I'm sure you know this, but there's a theory that hallucinations and "spells" were caused by consuming mushrooms in the local area. There was a biological reason for the so called possessions.)

    Overall, we need to learn to love instead of judge. I know it's hard considering all of the weirdness around us. People we don't get along with. Cultures we have difficulty understanding. Stressors making us lose our minds and not think clearly. We should stop judging based on our own cultural bias and societal norms and judge based on Christ's measuring stick. First of all, he'd want us to love the other person no matter who they are or what they might've done. Secondly, Christ wants us to leave judgments to Him. We must let go of our resentment and our prejudices. We must allow the Lord to handle people and situations in his own way. Judging others negatively only makes us feel negative and guilty. When we pray to Our Lord saying, "Please help me refrain from judging this person who I really despise" we give control over to Him! Finally, Christ warns us that when we judge others we will be subject to judgment, too. I don't think anybody wants someone to come up to them and tell them what a rotten person they are and how this, that and the other is a nuisance.

    I hope I make sense. Sorry for the lengthy comment.

    -Jennifer

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jennifer:

      I do agree with you that we should judge based on Christ's measuring stick. That being said, I also think it's important that we stand up for what's right in the legal and political arena. This is not condemnation but Truth. And we must speak the Truth in Love.

      Our apathy and silence is in fact a judgment, a judgment that the issue is OK. I had a lawyer friend that worked on the first same sex marrriage case in Hawaii back in the mid 90s. Before he died in '99, he warned that gay marriage would be legal in all 50 states in the near future. He was not far off.

      What we face on the gay marriage issue is not new.

      Check out this excellent article:

      http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/1367/gay_marriagenothing_new_under_the_sun.aspx

      While we should not judge the individual, we must be vocal in word and deed so that we stand up for the Truth. If not, we risk as Father A says being "on the wrong side of salvation history."

      Delete
    2. So what direct, measurable, quantifiable harm will occur if gay marriage becomes legal?

      Delete
    3. "So what direct, measurable, quantifiable harm will occur if gay marriage becomes legal?"

      Direct, measureable and quantifiable harm. This statement is a most absurd statement. Why you may ask? Because human beings are not direct, measureable or quantifiable! They change. They flow. They retreat and they attack. They are almost never direct! Do you think that a human being is a number, an age, a color? Maybe biologically, but they are much more. They are made up of more than DNA and atoms.

      Your statement is a simpleminded, dull-witted statement...and I'm being kind to you. If you still claim to not understand, then let me give you an example.

      What would be the direct, measureable, quantifiable harm if an atomic bomb were to explode over New York City? Would it be the size of the crater left at ground zero? Would it be the number of buildings destroyed and the number of lives evaporated? Of course not! The impact would be felt all over the world. Not only would New Yorkers be affected but to the rest of the world. Let's continue. It could throw an entire country into chaos and confusion and doubt about its national leaders. It might even start a revolution. It could cause a world war. It could annihilate the entire human race.

      Are you now understanding your narrow mindedness? Probably not.

      We all know that sexuality is something that is not predetermined. It is also conditioned. We already know that at an early age, children are still maturing in their sexuality. Anything that confuses them, anything that creates doubt in them, anything that initiates curiosity in them could have a long and lasting impact on them.Not all our sexual curiosities need to be examined, especially at an early age. Not all our curiosities need to have an outlet, especially at an early age. Why? Because humans can be conditioned thinking "orange is the new black."

      What was the direct, measureable, quantifiable harm that Carbon emissions had on our environment when they were allowed to be released? NONE. And now we know there is a link.

      What was the direct, measureable and quantifiable harm of abortion on marriage or breast cancer? NONE. And now we know there is a link.

      So what is the direct, measureable and quantifiable harm of legalizing drugs on youth? Supposedly none. But there will be one because the harm that drugs can do to a young adult is much more devastating than any positive that can come out of it.

      Our society is willing to experiment on their children, like as if they were lab rats. Other societies are not so stupid and rash and irresponsible.

      Delete
    4. Dear Anonymous:

      You raise a good question. Why shouldn't two consenting homosexual adults be entitled to marry? What are the quantifiable negative effects of such a union?

      At the outset, I do concur with Anonymous' reply to your post. Not all effects are direct and quantifiable. Look no further than the legalization of abortion. The obvious consequence is the annihilation of 55 million people since 1973. I believe it was Stalin that said that one death is a tragedy, one million is a statistic, Now we know better. This holocaust is more than a statistic. Each of the women that has suffered the tragedy of abortion has a story. There are countless unquantifiable effects for these women, yet they are real. Check out Silent No More . Real post abortive women in their own words. It's powerful.

      With respect to gay marriage, I would invite a meaningful dialogue on this. I do not think your viewpoint is narrow minded. I think it is honest.

      There is an excellent article entitled What is Marriage? It is authored by Sherif Girgis, Robert George, and Ryan Anderson. Both George and Girgis teach at Princeton; Anderson is at Notre Dame. I am encouraged that the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy published this Article. It is the basis for their book by the same title that I am currently reading. As a former Editor in Chief of the Georgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy, I don't know that Georgetown would have been as brave.

      I don't know if Father has read What Is Marriage? yet, but I would welcome his thoughts on it if he has.

      Please let's discuss after you have had a chance to read the article.

      Violin

      Delete
    5. Dear Anonymous:

      You raise a good question. Why shouldn't two consenting homosexual adults be entitled to marry? What are the quantifiable negative effects of such a union?

      At the outset, I do concur with Anonymous' reply to your post. Not all effects are direct and quantifiable. Look no further than the legalization of abortion. The obvious consequence is the annihilation of 55 million people since 1973. I believe it was Stalin that said that one death is a tragedy, one million is a statistic, Now we know better. This holocaust is more than a statistic. Each of the women that has suffered the tragedy of abortion has a story. There are countless unquantifiable effects for these women, yet they are real. Check out Silent No More . Real post abortive women in their own words. It's powerful.

      With respect to gay marriage, I would invite a meaningful dialogue on this. I do not think your viewpoint is narrow minded. I think it is honest.

      There is an excellent article entitled What is Marriage? It is authored by Sherif Girgis, Robert George, and Ryan Anderson. Both George and Girgis teach at Princeton; Anderson is at Notre Dame. I am encouraged that the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy published this Article. It is the basis for their book by the same title that I am currently reading. As a former Editor in Chief of the Georgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy, I don't know that Georgetown would have been as brave.

      I don't know if Father has read What Is Marriage? yet, but I would welcome his thoughts on it if he has.

      Please let's discuss after you have had a chance to read the article.

      Violin

      Delete
    6. I wanted to post the link to the article What is Marriage? by Girgis, Anderson, and George. It's excellent.

      http://www.harvard-jlpp.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/GeorgeFinal.pdf

      Delete
    7. With all due respect, violin, your comment: " I do not think your viewpoint is narrow minded. I think it is honest" is like a physician saying "I do not think your eyesight is blurry. I think it is what it is."

      Nice try, but being honest and stupid are not necessarily contradictory.

      Delete
    8. True. But we have to speak the truth in love. I would love to discuss the definition of marriage in a constructive way with Anonymous #1 and any other commentators.

      Read the article. It's really good. I reread their book last night. I think you'll enjoy it :) Encouraging Fr. A to do the same!

      Delete
    9. "Nice try, but being honest and stupid are not necessarily contradictory."

      Honesty is from the speaker's viewpoint, stupidity comes from our judgment of that person. I think Anonymous #1 ask an honest, thought-provoking question. Why not homosexual marriage?

      That being said, I can see how passionate you are about this issue. I share your passion. The traditonal nuclear family is disintegrating around is and I am troubled for my children and my future grandchildren.

      My only point is that reasonable people may want to know why homosexual marriage is wrong as they do not see the direct negative effects of such. Many Catholic friends, students, and clients of mine have raised this issue. The "direct" harm is not as easily visible (as in the case of murder, abortion, infanticide, illegal drugs, etc) as many other societal ills. It is there nonetheless. Anonymous #1 asks a legitimate question; one that serves a thoughtful response.

      Rather than impose judgments, I thought it would be beneficial to have a productive discourse--which is why I reread the book a few nights ago.

      That's what's missing today--civility between people--and the ability to discuss difficult issues in a thoughtful manner. Hopefully, this forum will engender this type of discussion.

      Delete
  2. Kudos Father! What an insightful way to think of it! I so often hear the"see the plank in your own eye" homily (which is definitely true) but I think you hit the nail on the head that we have to use Jesus' commandments as the guidepost.

    The first step to getting the right measuring stick is evangelization. We need to know the truth so we can spread it. This generation (and mine and yours!) is so desperate for the Truth. That's why Saint JPII was so awesome in getting the youth of the world to unite back in the 90s and getting out the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The big lie is just that, a big lie! Let's get out there and share the good news of Jesus Christ!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Here's an example of what I said.

    http://www.politico.com/story/2014/06/lawrence-odonnell-koch-brothers-thanks-msnbc-108223.html

    ReplyDelete
  4. Good to know Lawrence O'Donnell has enough humility to thank the Koch brothers for donating $25 million to a hospital that saved his life. Amazing what can happen when our perspective changes!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Last night while reading St. Catherine of Siena's "The Dialogue," this quote jumped out of the page as God says to St. Catherine: "In the measure that you put your trust in me, in that measure will my providence be meted out to you."

    Here's another excerpt I think is poignant: "No rank, whether of civil or divine law, can be held in grace without holy justice. For those who are not corrected and those who do not correct are like members beginning to rot, and if the doctor were only to apply ointment without cauterizing the wound, the whole body would become fetid and corrupt." A morbid image but just goes to show the importance of spreading the message of the Truth of Christ!

    -J.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "What would be the direct, measureable, quantifiable harm if an atomic bomb were to explode over New York City? ... Of course not!"

    Any one of those things would be measurable.

    "We all know that sexuality is something that is not predetermined. It is also conditioned."

    So is it still a choice? If so, can you choose to be heterosexual one week, then homosexual the next?

    "What was the direct, measureable, quantifiable harm that (carbon, drugs,abortion)...

    We know alcohol can cause harm, yet we allow that, just not for people under a certain age. Same with drugs. Sometimes people are willing to take risks.

    We now know that excessive carbon release is causing problems. Again, something we can measure and quantify. Years ago, we did not know this. Was there any reason at that point to regulate emissions? If we do not know of any harm that may occur from gay marriage, should it be made illegal?

    For all the stories of people who have had abortions and further problems, there are other stories of people who have had no problems whatsoever. And as far as you suggesting there is a link between abortion and breast cancer;

    http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/moreinformation/is-abortion-linked-to-breast-cancer

    "At this time, the scientific evidence does not support the notion that abortion of any kind raises the risk of breast cancer or any other type of cancer."

    Anyway, since you have essentially avoided the question, I will ask you again. In your own words, what harm will be done to individuals or to society when two people of the same gender are allowed to marry one another?


    "Please let's discuss after you have had a chance to read the article."

    Still reading, but this is not the place for extended discussion. There have been multiple times I have tried to post material which was not "defamatory, abusive or in bad taste" but merely brought up points Fr. either did not like or could (would?) not respond to.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Anonymous #1: I did answer your question. You just don't understand the answer.

      By asking what "direct, measurable and quantifiable harm same-sex marriage can do" is like asking what direct, measurable and quantifiable harm losing a finger can do.

      The question is ridiculous because it is a reduction of the problem or a narrowing of the problem.

      You have eliminated the psychological, emotional, immeasurable, unspeakable, indirect and unquantifiable problems that same-sex marriage does to the psychology, imagination and sexual development of children.

      But, if you insist, then you should know of a study that was conducted by a professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

      http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765581831/Studies-challenge-widely-held-assumptions-about-same-sex-parenting.html?pg=all

      You should know about this study, and you should also know that critics of the study attempted to debunk it, but were unable to. They even threatened the professor with dismissal if he had fudged or manipulated the data. No manipulation or improper handling of the data was discovered. The report stands.

      Breast cancer and abortion link. Try this link: http://www.lifenews.com/2013/08/19/73-studies-have-examined-abortion-and-breast-cancer-53-show-higher-risk/

      You may be too young to remember the scientific communities reluctancy to link smoking to cancer. The political pressure to disassociate the two was tremendous, just like the political pressure today to disassociate same-sex marriage with any harmful outcomes.

      I had to laugh at your last comment: "I have tried to post material which was not "defamatory, abusive or in bad taste" but merely brought up points Fr. either did not like or could (would?) not respond to."

      Could not? Don't flatter yourself, anonymous. Responses to your arguments don't require much thinking, just some time.

      May I ask you a simple question: Are you the same anonymous who once wrote that Nelson Mandela was a member of the South American Communist Party? And that never had the courage (or humility) to admit your mistake?

      Was it something you could (or would) not respond to? :)

      Delete

  7. YOU WROTE: "Still reading, but this is not the place for extended discussion. There have been multiple times I have tried to post material which was not "defamatory, abusive or in bad taste" but merely brought up points Fr. either did not like or could (would?) not respond to."

    I SAY: Given the fact that you are an "anonymous," I am not sure which comments I did not post. But chances are, your comments were not posted because they strayed away from the immediate topic (or to the point - a point you carelessly avoided mentioning in your comment). And I know how easy it is for someone to stray away from the immediate topic when they are not at all interested in learning but in arguing, or when they have been cornered or shown to be in error.

    To be honest with you, I wish I could understand your comment for today. I find it hard to track your thinking. For example:

    "So is it still a choice? If so, can you choose to be heterosexual one week, then homosexual the next?"

    A choice? Who is talking about a choice? Only you are speaking of choices. Do you really think that one's choices are made up of strictly internal factors and entirely independent of external factors? That one's sexuality is made exclusively from one's DNA and not from any environmental factors? Really? Not even scientists believe that! So much for your "choices."

    I would consider your comment more naïve than narrow-minded.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I should also say that I don't allow comments that promote websites or blogs that routinely and carelessly ridicule religions and religious beliefs.

    ReplyDelete

Updated: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. Comments must be concise and to the point.Comments are no longer accepted for posts older than 7 days.