Judge Not, Less You Be Judged
A Reflection for the 5th Sunday of Easter by Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD
Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy
This week I am digressing from the suggested readings for the fifth Sunday after Easter to address an issue that has been causing pain and suffering to me and to the work of the ministry. It seems that many people have forgotten the message of Matthew 7: 1-5; "Do not judge or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye".
The above reading is one that many people need to reflect on since it clearly tells us that we, mere humans, are in no position to make judgments as to how God is going to judge people and we need to be careful about how we judge the actions of others especially when they are not designed to hurt anyone or promote any activity that might be illicit or profane or illegal.
In today's society it seems everyone is ready to make judgments on the daily lives of everyone else. This is especially true when it come to GLBT individuals and divorced people and individuals from foreign countries.
Every week I receive at least one email condemning me for my ministry and the weekly reflections and I am certain that this one will also receive the same. They do not like that I am advocating justice and equality for every individual on earth especially those who are rejected by so called Christians because of their race, nationality, divorce or sexual orientation instilled within them by Almighty God for reasons known only to God.
People have accused me of being a pervert, a sick individual, and have condemned me to the deepest recesses of hell and called me a disgrace to the priesthood and all who hold views the same as mine. It has even been suggested that I engage in actions that are inappropriate for a member of the clergy because of the ministry.
Some have claimed that every priest, Bishop and Cardinal will be joining me in Hell including Pope Benedict "The Whore of Babylon" because he allowed pedophiles to exist and work with children, a grievous mistake certainly but which God may forgive if those who were guilty of such actions seek God's forgiveness.
People have taken on the role of God's judge and jury and decided that they know what God will do.
By doing this they have assumed the role reserved only for God and by doing so have committed a far greater sin. They obviously do not understand the infinite mercy of God and His willingness to forgive those who seek His forgiveness. The church will not even go so far as to say that Judas or Hitler is in Hell since we humans can not assume the role of God or know if they sought God's forgiveness for their sins and crimes.
I once received a wonderful letter which made some very excellent explanations as to why we minister to those children of God who are divorced or of the GLBT community. It related the following reasons we do and why we preach God's infinite love and mercy for Every human being regardless of their marital or sexual orientation.
It answered the question of "Why would a Christian pastor like you support gay rights and marriage equality?", by stating that they believed what Dr. Martin Luther King said; "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
I would add that no where in Holy Scripture can you find the word Homosexual since it was not even in existence until the mid 1800's when an English man created it. I also point out that the two passages often used by people to condemn homosexuality refer to using sexual activity in the worship of false Gods which is what the Sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was in addition to the sin of inhospitality which is one of the sins found in Leviticus.
The reference often quoted in Romans also refers to sexual acts as part of a religious ceremony.
Christ never rejected anyone who came to Him and Christ broke many of the "rules" of the hierarchy of the Jewish faith in His time. If we clergy are to be the hands and feet of Christ here on earth as His chosen ministers we need to reach out to all of God's children no matter what race, creed or sexual orientation they are and proclaim the message of God's infinite love for all His children. We need to proclaim loudly how God forgives any sin if the sinner is truly sorry and ask His forgiveness.
Love between two people is not a sin but a great gift from God to be cherished and nurtured no matter who it is between. If there were more love in this world and less hatred, judgments, and discrimination we would not have all the violence and dissentions that are tearing apart communities, nations, churches and families.
This ministry has suffered distain and rejection, even by members of my own family, because of its primary focus.
Contributions that could help us to sustain the mission and assist in our reaching out to those who have felt unwanted and rejected and financed the necessary maintenance to the mission's car so we can continue to make the visits to people of all ages, races and orientations who are hospitalized, in nursing homes or who are shut-ins because of disabilities and illnesses like Parkinson's Disease or AIDS do not meet the monthly costs of the ministry.
The time is now for each and every person to stop judging people for who and what they are but judge people by their actions and how they respect their neighbors and live their lives in relation to the great commandment given us by Christ, found in Luke 10:47 " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself" and this statement from Paul's letter to the Romans; " Nothing can come between us and the love of Christ, even if we are troubled or worried, or being persecuted, poor, elderly, threatened or even attacked. These are the trials through which we triumph, by the power of Almighty God who loved us." Romans 8:35 - 37 AMEN