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JUDGE NOT, THAT YOU BE NOT JUDGED
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Monday, Twelfth Week of the Year, June 20, 2016
2 Kings 17:5-8, 13-15, 18, Psalm 59, Matthew 7:1-5


Scripture quotations are from the RSV unless otherwise noted.

 

"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get" (Matthew 7:1-2).


The word for "judge" used here (krino) means both to judge and to condemn. Jesus wants us not to do this. We are, of course, judging all the time and condemning peoples' words and actions, but we must be careful when judging other people. If we hear that a man raped and strangled to death several young woman, whom he did not even know, we immediately judge in our mind what he did and condemn his action. So perhaps what Jesus means here is that we should not totally write this person off. He might still be reached with the gospel and be saved.


Prisons are filled with rapists and murderers; and chaplains visit them and try to convert them, to bring them to repentance and faith in Christ's atoning death for their forgiveness and salvation. In fact, many such prisoners have been converted and themselves become zealous preachers of Christ's salvation to their fellow prisoners.


The ultimate condemnation and judgment comes from rejecting Christ and the gospel. Yet even if we reject the gospel, we still have time. Until a person dies, he still has a chance to repent and believe in Christ for his justification, because of the reparation-making death of Christ on the cross for our sins.


No one is without sin. So it is good news indeed that God does not yet write us completely off for all our sins. He gives us until the moment of our death to repent and open our arms out to Christ in faith for our salvation, no matter how badly we have lived, no matter how many sins we have committed.


So we should be like God and like Christ in holding off from making a final judgment of people until the moment of their death. After their death, it is up to God to judge them and either reward them with a resurrection unto life or a resurrection unto eternal death (John 5:28-29). In this matter of judgment, let us be like Christ, who said, "I did not come to judge the world but to save the world" (John 12:47). Judgment comes after death. Christ will ultimately judge us then (Acts 10:42; Matthew 25:31-46). But now in this life there is always hope, and Christ does not ultimately condemn us now. Yes, he condemns us for our sins now. But until we die, we always have the opportunity to repent and believe in Christ for our forgiveness, salvation, and justification.


"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God" (John 3:16-18).


He who does not turn to Christ in repentance and faith is the one who is condemned. God has extended his saving hand out to him to save him from certain death, and he has freely rejected it and so is lost. It was his own decision to refuse the salvation that God offered him. Salvation only comes to us through faith in Christ, because of the work of reparation that he has done for us on the cross. As Christians, we work together with Christ as his ambassadors to call people to repentance and reconciliation with God (2 Corinthians 5:20). We should not condemn them in the sense of completely writing them off. We should try to preach to them and share our faith with them to save them.


We can help people to repent and believe in Christ by preaching the law to them, for the moral law (the Ten Commandments) is the pedagogue that leads us to Christ (Galatians 3:24). That is the purpose of the moral law. It reveals our sinfulness to us and thereby brings us to repent in sorrow for our sins and then to turn to Christ with open arms so that the reparation that he made on the cross for our sins might be credited to us and God might therefore declare us righteous, just, and holy.


We need to do this for ourselves to be born again in Christ, and we need to do it anew every time we fall into a new sin.


Then, made new and strong by Christ, we can be his ambassadors to call others to repentance and faith for their justification and salvation. "So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God" (2 Corinthians 5:20). We should not be hypocrites, condemning others before we ourselves repent. But when we repent of our sins, we will and should want to help others too to be saved from their sins that alienate them from God and will send them to hell forever when they die if they do not repent in time, reform their life, and call upon the merits of Christ's death to justify them. Those who repent and believe will be saved. Those who refuse to repent and believe will be lost.


"He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God" (John 3:18). "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him" (John 3:36). "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:15-16). "God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who has not the Son of God has not life" (1 John 5:11-12).


So while we cannot help making judgments about other people when we observe what they say and do, we must make a real effort to always maintain hope for their repentance, faith, and salvation. We can continue preaching to them, sharing our faith with them, trying to help them, acting as Christ's ambassadors to them. "So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God" (2 Corinthians 5:20). As long as they are alive, they still have time to repent, believe, and be saved. No one is cut off from the chance of being saved as long as there is still life in him. So we must struggle to resist the temptation to condemn people while they are still alive.

 

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