For the benefit of "Catholics" who prefer post Vatican II Catholicism I will not take anything from before that time. You're welcome.
JUDGE NOT LEST YE BE JUDGED.
You would think that the entire Bible consisted of that one phrase written over and over a thousand times. It would make more sense I guess; it’d be one of the only ways I could understand someone actually reading the Bible and still thinking that JUDGE NOT means to never call out sin or teach others about God and being good and following His Commandments and so on.
It’s a favorite “catchphrase” of many if, God forbid, someone disagrees with them on some spiritual level.
But, before we begin, can we all agree on ONE THING? Can we all agree that God makes no mistakes, and never contradicts Himself? Great. Let’s get to it then!
It is repeated so many times: “Jesus told us to love one another (John 13:34-35) and not to judge them (Matthew 7). This therefore means that even if someone IS sinning we must not call them out on it, but we must ‘love them and not judge them'”.
This is a lovely merry-go-round from hell, but that’s merely my opinion. Why do I think so? Because frankly if Jesus told us to do one thing, they why for heaven’s sake did he tell us the complete “opposite” in James 5:20:( let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins),
..what about Leviticus 19:15 ? (You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor)
Proverbs 31:9? (Open your mouth, judge righteously; maintain the rights of the poor and needy)
1 Thessalonians 5:14? And we exhort you, brethren, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.
Matthew 7:2? (For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.)
1 Corinthians 2:15? (The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.)
Luke 12:57? (“And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?)
John 7:24? (Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”)
Matthew 18:15? (“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.)
1 Timothy 5:20? “As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear”
Ecclesiasticus 19:17? “For who is there that hath not offended with his tongue? Admonish thy neighbour before thou threaten him.”
Titus 1:13? “This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith”
2 Timothy 4:1-2? “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching”
Ecclesiasticus 19:15? “Admonish thy friend: for there is often a fault committed.”
Hebrews 5:2? He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.
Galatians 6:1-6? “if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.”
Mercy & Charity
So what did Jesus mean?
He told us not the judge but calls us to judge!? As Catholics we can always turn to the Catechism if something in the Bible doesn’t make sense to us.
CCC 1861: ..However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.
CCC 1749: Human acts, that is, acts that are freely chosen in consequence of a judgment of conscience, can be morally evaluated. They are either good or evil.
Speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all men. (Titus 3:2)
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity. (James 3:17)
Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence. (1 Peter 3:15)
It is the acts of a person that we are called to judge.
But we are called to judge with charity, with love and humility, not rashly or with evil intention. Judging a person on the other hand is forbidden. For God can only judge a person’s intention, He alone knows how much they know of the matter, if they are doing it purposefully, and if their sin if unrepentant is enough to send them to hell for eternity.
We on the other hand are called to judge the acts. If we are properly catechized in the faith, to know what is sinful and what isn’t, we are called to correct our brethren, lest they cause the serious sin of scandal by their actions, bad example, and/or the loss of their own soul and the souls of others.
We can see this when we are called to “Be merciful as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36), and “in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you (Matthew 7:12) so “Let us not therefore judge one another any more. But judge this rather, that you put not a stumbling block or a scandal in your brother’s way. (Romans 14:13)
Our Heavenly Father is merciful. In His mercy he has above all given His Son to die on the cross for us. He has also given us Commandments to follow so that we do not fall into such sin and filth in the eyes of God that we damn ourselves for eternity. He is so merciful that He has given us the Sacrament of Confession to repent of our sin, and the Holy Eucharist to give us His own body, blood, soul and divinity to give us the strength we need to keep away from sin, and save our souls.
The Bible tells us that we are called to LOVE ONE ANOTHER; it also tells us to “Admonish thy friend: for there is often a fault committed.” [Ecclesiasticus 19:15]
To Admonish the Sinner is one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy, (YOUCAT 451: What are the “spiritual works of mercy”? The spiritual works of mercy are: to instruct the ignorant, to counsel the doubtful, comfort the sorrowful, admonish the sinner, bear wrongs patiently, forgive all injuries, and pray for the living and the dead.)
..this means it is actually an act of MERCY. Wow, that’s a tough one huh?
Judgement Versus Admonishing
It is repeated many times throughout Scripture to ADMONISH each other;
Romans 15:14 “And I myself also, my brethren, am assured of you, that you also are full of love, replenished with all knowledge, so that you are able to admonish one another.”
2 Thessalonians 3:14 “If any one refuses to obey what we say in this letter, note that man, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not look on him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother”
2 Timothy 1:6 “For which cause I admonish thee, that thou stir up the grace of God which is in thee, by the imposition of my hands.”
Titus 3:1 “Admonish them to be subject to princes and powers, to obey at a word, to be ready to every good work.”
Prominent People & Judgement
Doctor of the Church St. Thomas Aquinas has also deemed fraternal correction (admonishing the sinner with love, charity & mercy) an act of Charity!
Article 1. Whether fraternal correction is an act of charity?
The correction of the wrongdoer is a remedy which should be employed against a man’s sin. Now a man’s sin may be considered in two ways, first as being harmful to the sinner, secondly as conducing to the harm of others, by hurting or scandalizing them, or by being detrimental to the common good, the justice of which is disturbed by that man’s sin.
Consequently the correction of a wrongdoer is twofold, one which applies a remedy to the sin considered as an evil of the sinner himself. This is fraternal correction properly so called, which is directed to the amendment of the sinner. Now to do away with anyone’s evil is the same as to procure his good: and to procure a person’s good is an act of charity, whereby we wish and do our friend well. Consequently fraternal correction also is an act of charity, because thereby we drive out our brother’s evil, viz. sin, the removal of which pertains to charity rather than the removal of an external loss, or of a bodily injury, in so much as the contrary good of virtue is more akin to charity than the good of the body or of external things. Therefore fraternal correction is an act of charity rather than the healing of a bodily infirmity, or the relieving of an external bodily need. There is another correction which applies a remedy to the sin of the wrongdoer, considered as hurtful to others, and especially to the common good. This correction is an act of justice, whose concern it is to safeguard the rectitude of justice between one man and another.
… Since, then, the admonition which is given in fraternal correction is directed to the removal of a brother’s sin, which removal pertains to charity, it is evident that this admonition is chiefly an act of charity, which virtue commands it, so to speak, but secondarily an act of prudence, which executes and directs the action.
..Fraternal correction is not opposed to forbearance with the weak, on the contrary it results from it. For a man bears with a sinner, in so far as he is not disturbed against him, and retains his goodwill towards him: the result being that he strives to make him do better.”
Want more? Read the rest here.
The Beloved Mother Angelica was not one to shy away from talking about true judgement. In her book “Mother Angelica on Christ and Our Lady“, starting on page 349, “Discerning and Judging” she talks about the Gospel of St. Luke and its seemingly “contradictory” views.
She says, “..the emphasis is not on my brother’s actions by my brother’s needs. My concern is not to judge his motives but to pour the healing balm of kindness on his wounds. My obligation is to pray for him if he is wicked and not condemn him as being lost…”
In another one of her books, “Mother Angelica’s Little Book of Life Lessons And Everyday Spirituality” she says this about judgement;
Avoidance of Rash Judgment!
With all this in mind, we must pray and always stay firmly educated in what the Church teaches. For it can easily turn from “Fraternal Correction” to “Rash Judgement, Gossip and so on” !
CCC 2477-2478: Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty:
- of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;
- of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them;
- of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.
To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way: “Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.”
James 4:11 ” Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.“
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
James 4:12: There is one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you that you judge your neighbor?
Now that is only information that you can find post Vatican II. Imagine what the Church has said on this subject in its (still valid) Catechisms and books that were published before the 1960’s ..
Until next time, God bless & Keep It trad!