on judgement

Today's Gospel passage has always been one of my favorites, the source of much prayer and reflection:
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.”
Another translation I use talks about the "2x4" in your own eye. Not to long ago when I was praying with this passage it dawned on me ... Jesus was the "carpenter's son." He was raised by Joseph, a man who no doubt knew a thing or two about splinters getting caught in your eye and the dangers of working with 2x4's. The example Jesus uses in today's Gospel is totally something the carpenter (and his son) would have said. It's another earthy, everyday example. And as the carpenter's son, I'm thinking it's highly likely he actually said it!

Like the disciples, I hear Jesus' message of non-judgement. And yet, if I'm honest, I'm usually more focused on the splinter in my neighbor's eye than the 2x4 in my own. That's why this passage is one I return to often.

Recently someone told me of a practice her local community of sisters used to work on this very problem. Each member of the community was given a purple bracelet to wear on their wrist. The goal was to give up judgmental thoughts and behavior for 21 days ... the amount of time they say it takes to break an old habit/learn a new one. When they found themselves being judgmental, they would switch the bracelet to the other wrist as a reminder of their desire to be nonjudgmental, and begin counting the days again. The person who told the story, when asked how long the bracelet had been on her current wrist, answered "Four days!."

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