One of the reasons we shouldn’t judge others is because we’re all still cooking — we’re not done yet. You’re still alive? Me too! We’ve got that much in common. So don’t open up the oven and pull me out prematurely, OK? We’re supposed to be trying to win souls for Christ, not pointing out the splinter in our brother’s eye, while we’ve got dueling Oak trees popping from our own peepers. On this issue many simply won’t budge: Judge not, lest ye be judged.
On the other hand, you have different fingers.” Steven Wright
On the other hand, we are called to recognize and reject sin wherever it rears its ugly head. Sin isn’t a person, it’s a condition.
For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
The above was written by St. Paul, who started off as a formidable foe to the early Christians. Prior to his conversion, he was most commonly called Saul, from the Mediterranean city of Tarsus, which was an intellectual hotbed at the time, and he was one of their prize pupils. Saul was wicked smaht, but mostly wicked, being that he was famous for his relentless pursuit and persecution of the renegade Jewish sect that worshiped some criminal carpenter the Romans executed. He had clout coming out of his ears, since he was both a Pharisee of the Jewish tribe of Benjamin, and a Roman citizen, which gave him carte blanche to do whatever, wherever. We’re talking Don Corleone power and swagger, without having to bribe law enforcement — because he basically was law enforcement.
That’s Saul, folks.
And you all know the story of his interrupted journey on the road to Damascus, where our Lord literally knocked Saul off his high horse. The resurrected Christ asked, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”
And then Saul sort of answered his own question when he asked, “Who art thou, Lord?”
I am Jesus who thou persecutest.”
This baffled our boy, Harvard, because he’d never met Jesus, so he couldn’t quite figure out how he could be accused of persecuting him. But that’s the key to it all. The Christians ARE the mystical body of Christ. If you persecute them, you persecute Him. “Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40)
And Saul became Paul, who became the greatest Christian missionary this side of heaven. Not surprisingly, though, his clout went out the window when he switched sides. As he was traveling from place to place preaching the gospel, Paul found himself on the opposite end of that harsh Christian persecution. He was the apostle that took a lickin’ and kept on ticking.
It’s a good thing nobody took Paul out of the oven while he was still cooking. We’d have lost one of the most influential individuals in the history of the Church. Only our Lord is mentioned more often in the New Testament than Paul.
We are all Sauls with Paul-potential. Or at least I think we should look at it that way. We should look at others that way, too. Love the sinner, hate the sin. Don’t throw the toddler out with the tub liquid. I don’t intend this to sound like one of those tolerance rants, mind you, where some feel-good pseudo-psychologist goes on about how I’m a sinner and you’re a sinner, and we’re all sinners, and therefore sinning is OK. I’m a Pepper, you’re a Pepper, he’s a Pepper, she’s a Pepper — wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper too? (Sorry, soda flashback.) I’m not about pumping you with self-esteem steroids, telling you there’s no place for judgment calls. And, yeah, God loves you just the way you are, but He also loves you too much to let you stay that way. But anyway, the point is, it’s our job as the church militant to make our fellow foot soldiers aware of the fire, so they can avoid falling into it; not to take some kind of prideful pleasure in the fact that we know something they don’t know, then pushing them into the fire because you appointed yourself judge, jury and executioner.
You are your brother’s keeper, because when one of us is wounded, the mystical body is wounded — His body. And we revisit Matthew Chapter 25, where Jesus talks about the last day, when the Son of Man will divide all into two groups: the sheep at His right hand and the goats at His left. The sheep are welcomed to their inheritance, the kingdom prepared for them since the creation of the world:
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
And of course all the righteous are scratching their noggins, trying to recall when they ever did all that for Him, just as Saul wasn’t sure how he’d managed to persecute God without ever having met Him. It’s essentially the same answer for both:
Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.”