daily biblical sermons

The US Catholic bishops have voted to admonish Pres. Biden that his life lacks Eucharistic coherence, and so he should not present himself to receive Holy Communion
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Monday, 12th Week of the Year, June 21, 2021
Genesis 12:1-9, Psalm 32, Matthew 7:1-5

Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version 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. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5).



This is a passage of Scripture that is often misunderstood and misapplied. It is an especially favorite text of enemies of biblical Christianity. Whenever they hear a Christian preaching against homosexual sex, transgenderism, abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, homosexual unions, and so-called “homosexual marriage,” these enemies of biblical Christianity will shout out the biblical text, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1).



Such enemies of Christianity think of Jesus as always meek and mild and never criticizing anyone, but always being inclusive and tolerant of diversity. However, this is not the Jesus of the Bible who often argued very harshly with the Pharisees and publicly admonished them, saying, “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” (Matthew 23:13). “Woe to you, blind guides” (Matthew 23:16). “You blind fools!” (Matthew 23:17).



Indeed, there is a time and place for sharp criticism of the errors that are so prevalent today in the world and even in the Church. And Jesus told us to use our faculty of judgment to judge evil behavior. He told us, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-16).



To be able to distinguish true preachers from false shepherds who are really ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing we need to use discernment and make judgments about the life, behavior, and teaching of these people. “Jesus is not teaching that we are to be undiscerning Christians. He never intended that we abandon our critical faculty or discernment. The New Testament has many illustrations of legitimate judgment of the condition, conduct, or teaching of others” (William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary (Thomas Nelson, 1989), page 1227).



We are to test everything by the Scriptures so that we may distinguish true teaching from false teaching, for otherwise we would be led astray by every wind of doctrine that every passing preacher proclaims. This requires judging people’s doctrine by testing it against the Scriptures. So, we need to make judgments about how people live, behave, and what they teach.



“Our Lord does not mean that it is wrong, under any circumstances, to pass unfavorable judgment on the conduct and opinions of others. We ought to have decided opinions. We are to ‘prove all things.’ We are to ‘test the spirits.’ Nor yet does He mean that it is wrong to reprove the sins and faults of others, until we are perfect and faultless ourselves. Such an interpretation would contradict other parts of Scripture. It would make it impossible to condemn error and false doctrine. It would debar any one from attempting the office of a minister or a judge. The earth would be ‘given into the hands of the wicked’ (Job 9:24). Heresy would flourish – and wrongdoing would abound” (JC Ryle, 1816-1900, emphasis in the text).



This reading occurs at a most propitious time, for Catholic newspapers and websites this past week were full of accounts of the United States Catholic bishops’ conference that took place on June 16-18, which discussed the sacredness of the Eucharist as the true body and blood of Christ that should be received in a worthy manner by people whose life and behavior does not contradict the teachings of the New Testament and of the Church on important moral issues such as abortion.



Then a long debate of many bishops focused on the president of the United States Joseph Biden who is a Catholic who attends Mass frequently and proclaims that he is a devout Catholic, and yet he is pro-abortion and is doing everything he can to make sure that every woman, no matter what her race or background or economic status, can have an abortion, because he claims this is a woman’s right. He is using the power of his office as president of the United States to expand opportunities for abortion and has said that he will only nominate Supreme Court justices that are pro-abortion.



Many bishops argued that the life and behavior of our president is not coherent with the reception of Holy Communion, that is, his present behavior makes him unworthy to receive the Eucharist properly, and so he should be told not to present himself to receive the body and blood of Christ.



Then after days of heated debate, it was proposed that the doctrinal committee of the bishops’ conference write a paper explaining that the Eucharist is the true body and blood of Christ and that one must be worthy to receive it, for as St. Paul says, “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself” (1 Corinthians 11:27-29).



A vote was then taken whether such a paper should be written, and the vote was 168 bishops voted that it should be written, 55 voted that it should not be written, and six abstained. Those that wanted this paper written are 73% of the American bishops, which is way over two thirds majority (two thirds would be 66%). All that is needed is a simple majority. So, the measure passed overwhelmingly in favor of this paper which will admonish President Biden that unless he repents of his false and immoral behavior concerning abortion, thinking that the moral evil of directly murdering your own children in the womb is a good thing and promoting it, he is not to present himself to receive Holy Communion.



It will then be up to the individual bishops to authoritatively tell the president and other Catholic politicians who have similar immoral views and behavior concerning abortion that they are not to present themselves at the altar to receive Holy Communion until they repent and stop their immoral behavior of promoting abortion.



So, this is a contemporary example that is in the news right now of Christians admonishing and judging the behavior of other people and publicly warning and correcting them.



So, we must not misinterpret today’s reading to think that any judgment at all of another person’s moral behavior is not to be done. Jesus did not keep this commandment in this way at all, for he was constantly admonishing and correcting the scribes and the Pharisees for their hypocrisy.



So, what does Jesus mean when he says, “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)?



“What our Lord means to condemn, is a censorious and fault-findings spirit. A readiness to blame others for trifling offenses, or matters of indifference – a habit of passing rash and hasty judgments – a disposition to magnify the errors and infirmities of our neighbors, and make the worst of them – this is what the Lord forbids” (JC Ryle, emphasis in the text).



Jesus next gives the example of how not to correct other people, namely when you have a log in your own eye and try to correct someone for the tiny speck in his eye. He tells us to first take the big fault out of your eye in order to be able to see better to correct the tiny fault in your brother’s eye.



An example of this would be someone who harshly corrects someone else for committing the very same sin that he himself is committing. How could a person have the gall to do such a thing?



However, it is quite another matter if the corrector reforms his own life and for number of years has completely abandoned his former sin to now with kindness and sympathy try to help someone else who has the same sin that he once had but has now abandoned and been cured of. Such a person is the perfect person to help other people overcome this sin, because he can sympathize with them and tell them that he once had the same problem and has overcome it with the help of God. So, he can very effectively encourage this sinner to amend his life too.



There are prominent public examples of this, for example people who have lived a homosexual lifestyle of free homosexual sex, and then have finally seen the light and been converted and now live a pure moral Christian life and have dedicated the rest of their life to trying to help others who have the same problem that they once had themselves.



Such people are very effective. They know how to talk to these people, and they know their problems and what they have to do to be cured of this fault. They probably are the best people to be in such a ministry.



Another example might be someone who was once a gluttonous eater and came to the point where he weighed over 400 pounds. Should such a person harshly condemn for overeating someone who only has a tiny potbelly? Of course not! It would be ludicrous if he did.



But if this 400 pounder goes on a crash diet and now weighs only 150 pounds and has lived this way for some time, he will be in an excellent position to help other people who are grossly overweight, because he can give the example of his own life. He can show them pictures of himself when he once weighed 400 pounds, and they can see him now as skinny as a rail, and he can give them confidence that they too can be cured.



So, we are to follow the teaching of Jesus. First reform yourself; then you will be in an excellent position to help others overcome the same fault that you yourself once had. And you will probably do so with a lot of love, sympathy, and kindness for them, because you yourself once had the same problem. So, “first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5).



We should not think that since none of us are free from all faults from our birth to the present day that none of us can correct anybody of anything without being hypocrites. If this were true, no one could correct anyone, and we would be living in an uncivilized jungle. So, what we must do is repent and take the big fault out of our own eye first so that we can see clearly and with sympathy and love help others to correct the same faults that we ourselves once had and by the grace of God were able to overcome.

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