Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

“God gives us the ability to discern but he alone is the Judge.” – Judy Santostefano

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

Judge not lest you be judged.

The measure you give will be the measure you receive.

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

In other words, don’t judge.

Years ago, my husband Peter and I were strolling hand in hand through a small New England town. After six years of marriage I was finally pregnant with our first child. My husband’s handlebar mustache made him look older than his 29 years, while at 27 I was stuck with a baby face and braces on my teeth. I looked no older than 17.

A menacing-looking stranger approached us. He glowered at Peter and snarled, “You’re disgusting!”

He thought Peter was a creepy older man and I was an unwed teenager.

The accuser assumed he had all the facts.

He did not.

Have you noticed how readily we judge others? And yet God clearly and strongly enjoins us to not judge. I offer some ideas for putting this command into practice.

When someone’s theology differs from mine, I will not judge.

When someone’s politics are not the same as mine, I will not judge.

When someone at the grocery store pays with food stamps, I will not judge.

When I learn that someone is gay, I will not judge. When my daughter’s new boyfriend turns out to be an ex-con, I will not judge.

When someone of Middle Eastern descent sits next to me on an airplane, I will not judge.

When a neighbor’s kid is arrested for drug use, I will not judge.

When a homeless man approaches me, I will not judge.

When I see a woman who is overweight, I will not judge. Not even if she is eating a cookie.

When someone is divorced, I will not judge.

When someone has a bad haircut or ugly shoes or takes two parking spaces or keeps his directional signal on for 20 miles, I will not judge.

The fact that I will not judge does not mean that I will not take necessary action. If a parent is abusing a child, I will not judge but I will certainly step in to protect the child.

As humans, we can be terribly judgmental of one another, even in matters that are none of our business. And still God calls us to not judge. Here are additional ideas:

When a teen’s skirt is too short or hair is too shaggy, I will not judge.

When Mass runs long or the church is too hot or the altar server is wearing flip flops, I will not judge.

When a driver refuses to relinquish the left lane, I will not judge.

When someone answers his or her cell phone in the middle of a funeral, I will not judge.

If a mom works when I think she should stay home, or stays home when I think she should work, I will not judge.

When I have difficulty understanding a priest’s foreign accent, I will not judge.

When someone blasts rap music or sports body piercings and tattoos, I will not judge.

When the car ahead of me is driving slower than an armadillo, I will not judge.

I will express my concern only in situations where someone’s health or safety is at serious risk, or where there is true evil. Even then, I will speak in a compassionate manner. And I will not judge.

Here are some final things I will not do:

Under no circumstance will I yell at a store clerk.

I will not utter the phrase, “We never did it that way before.”

I will not call the chancery to complain unless someone’s life is at stake.

I will not assume that my opinion is the only one that counts.

I will not pass along unkind information, even if it is true.

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

Regina Cram lives in Glastonbury and is a freelance writer. She is the author of Do Bad Guys Wear Socks? Living the Gospel in Everyday Life.