Saturday, July 9, 2011

Judgement Yes and no

In the first reading we reach the end of the Joseph story, his father has died, and his brothers throw themselves at his feet, fearing that he might still harbor a grudge for what they did to him. He responds with a simple question: Can I take the place of God?

The question of judging others is not as simple as it may first appear. It is easy to say we should not judge others but on some level we must.

Here we need to distinguish between judging the action and judging the imputability of the action. On the surface, we may be able to clearly distinguish right from wrong and make the reasoned judgement that a particular action of a person is wrong. But as we move through the deeper questions it quickly moves beyond our ability to judge with any real certainty.

Our most common error/sin seems to be the speed with which we leap from action to intention. "He did that because..." Almost reflexively we attribute intention to someone's action. We further reveal our own egocentric qualities when we assume the intention has something to do with us. Someone walks past us without speaking, and we, in our narcissism, assume it was an intentional slight. Perhaps the person was simply preoccupied.

Questions of knowledge, intention, negligence, contrition can only be answered with absolute certainly by one who can read the heart. The only one who can do that is God.

Today's reading invites us to take note of the number of times in a single day we find ourselves judging others, and perhaps as we catch ourselves in the act, we can remember our own limitation.