This Saturday is a special day for Jay and me. Four years ago I walked down the aisle in Ireland at Tearmann Anama (Soul Sanctuary) toward my beautiful husband with all of our children/sons-in-law/grandchildren in attendance. And to top it all off, Fr. Darragh Connolly was the priest marrying us and Anne a lay apostle gave a short talk after the ceremony. That day was perfect.
As I think about my journey in life and the choices I've made, to be in that moment, June 26, 2016 . . . I felt complete, satisfied. No one judging me for the mistakes of my past. Only love, family, and fellowship with those closest to us. I have learned many things in the four years since our Catholic wedding. No matter how many blessings we are graced with, there will always be struggles to contend with and judgments to assess and navigate. One important lesson (and there are many!) I have incorporated into my life from this mission is from The Guide to Contemplative Prayer by Anne:
"Next, we examine our conscience using the formula which connects our sins and mistakes to our humanity. We think of our sin and then we try to connect it to the wound or human characteristic which prompted it. It looks like this: ‘I felt rejected and then I did this. I felt angry and then I said this. I was bored, tired, anxious, hungry, addicted or what have you and then I did this, that or the other.’"
When I feel a particular emotion, I try to contemplate what causes those emotions in me by connecting it to possibly something which occurred in my childhood/young adult life. The result is I am refocused and usually overcome the feeling of judgment or hurt fairly quickly.
Life is a roller coaster lay apostles. And I feel so privileged to have Jay to hold on to through all the ups and downs. With Jesus and Jay by my side, how can I lose?
In today's Gospel (Matthew 7:1-5), Jesus asks us to look within before we judge others:
Jesus said to his disciples: “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.”
In Anne a lay apostle's book Serving in Clarity, she is spot on . . . examine our own behavior first:
"It is distressing to witness a spirit of pride and arrogance. We must always look for personal outrage as a marker for pride in ourselves. By this I do not refer to the outrage one feels regarding injustice done to others. This is appropriate. By this, the marker for pride, I refer to personal outrage associated with being treated less respectfully than we would like or being judged in a way that is less positive than we feel we deserve or desire. To clarify, we can go, as usual, to the Lord’s example. When people lied about Jesus personally or mistreated Him, He let it go, as in the Garden. He did not puff up and sputter in outrage. He was very consistent in behaving like a lamb. But when people planned to stone an adulteress, He stopped them. He exhibited a sense of outrage, turning the situation on its head and using it to promote non-judgmental treatment of others. Also, when He witnessed His Father’s house being used as a marketplace, He exhibited outrage, even reacting with just anger. Jesus quietly accepted personal insults and slights to Himself. He did not accept cruel behavior against people or blasphemous behavior against His Father. There are those who will say that to behave in obedience is to offer up our free will. This is true. This is what we are striving for, to offer up our free will to the Lord. It is only when we give up trying to be masters that we can become servants. We will not enter heaven with our hands on our hips, telling everyone else, least of all Christ, where they are getting it wrong."
Lay apostles, let's all vow to leave the judging up to Jesus today. If we judge another, we will be judged by the same standards. I, for one, am far from perfect. I am a sinner. There is not one human being on this earth who has not sinned. Jesus knows us, and He knows EVERYTHING. So, before you become angry with the rude waitress, try to show her the Light of Christ by thanking her for serving you. Don't judge, just love.
Thank you, Lord, for teaching me to leave any judgment up to You! Please continue to remind me, when I start stumbling in that direction, You have it all under control! And, thank You for the blessing of the most wonderful husband alive!