You may be surprised to know that I am beginning to be wired in to the new social media. Now, understand, I’m not as wired as your average 13-year-old. But at least I’m not completely oblivious to this new world of social communications that surrounds us.
Let me give you an example. I was thrilled to celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday, the Second Sunday of Easter, at SS. John and Paul Parish right off Interstate 79 North. Mass, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, Holy Hour — it was a beautiful afternoon of prayer with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
During the quiet of the Holy Hour, I pulled out my cell phone where I have an app for the breviary, the Liturgy of the Hours. I was able to call up the prayers and readings for that afternoon and have a great opportunity for prayer and meditation.
After the service was over and I was preparing to leave the parish, the pastor, Father Joe McCaffrey, let me know that I had been caught. Caught at what? It seems that somebody told him that the bishop was using the Holy Hour to check his phone messages.
If I haven’t been guilty of doing it myself, I might have gone into a slow — or fast — burn. But I understand how it works. We are all in a rush to judgment at times, quickly assuming the worst of people based often on the least of knowledge. We can spot the speck in someone’s eye a mile away while we carefully ignore the beam in own. We can even spot that speck when it isn’t there at all.
Usually we walk away blissfully unaware that our judgment has been dead wrong. We’ve lambasted some innocent soul and have the comfort of knowing that we’re just a little bit better. Too often, we never find out that “it ain’t what it seems.” Please know that this reflection really is focusing on my rushing to judge someone else, NOT the person who observed me.
I can’t help thinking of Corinth. It was a young city — only about 100 years old after being completely destroyed two centuries earlier by an angry Roman consul. But it had become a thriving shipping center in southern Greece once again when it was visited by St. Paul. He was able to build a thriving Christian community in the pagan city, especially among the poorer classes.
But not soon after he left, he heard reports that things were going wrong. Everybody was after everybody, breaking into factions, pointing fingers at each other, rushing to judgment on whatever anyone was saying or doing. So Paul wrote a letter to the Corinthians, reminding them of what they had already forgotten:
“If I speak in tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13: 1-8).
We are called to live love, to reflect that Divine Love we remember in Divine Mercy Sunday. It is a love that calls us to mercy, and that calls us to charity which is Divine Love and Mercy lived.
Particularly during the Easter season, an armistice on the rush to judgment might be called. We have lived again in those last few days of the Lenten season the greatest rush to judgment in humanity’s history. An innocent Jesus is arrested, tried, beaten, paraded through the streets and brutally crucified. Humanity judges the Son of Man and rushes to his execution.
In warning about missing that beam in our own eye, Jesus warns us not to judge. He is not telling us to tolerate sin. But he is reminding us not to rush into judgment. He is telling us our lives are meant to be lived not in pointing fingers, but in charity that doesn’t ask before it serves, doesn’t lecture before it ministers, doesn’t judge before it heals.
Imagine if Jesus was so quick to judge as I seem to do, as we seem to do, far too often. What would He have said then to the 10 Apostles who ran away and hid rather than keep watch under his cross? Or to Peter who denied him not once, not twice, but three times? Or To Mary Magdalene who first did not recognize him as the Risen Savior? Or to the disciples on the road to Emmaus who failed to understand what had happened on that first Easter?
In the maxims of the Sisters of St. Joseph attributed to the order’s founder, Father Jean Pierre Medaille, he reminds his congregation in the Eucharist Letter to “always interpret everything in the most favorable light.”
It is a good maxim for all of us. Something we should all keep in mind as we go through our daily pilgrimage. I know that I will try to remember it.
Paul’s words always come back to us: “If I have all faith … but have not love, I am nothing.” Love is at the core of Christian belief because God is love. God asks us to love Him and love our neighbors. In the Eucharist we are given the grace to live out that love.
Here’s one thing you can count on: I promise to try never to use a social communications device in the wrong place at the wrong time. At the same time, I also promise to try to avoid the rush to judgment and to try with every fiber of my faith and being to always “interpret everything in the most favorable light.” Because the one thing I continue to learn as a sinner, when I, when we rush to judgment, all too often “it ain’t what it seems.”