Most Catholics remember the passage about cutting off body parts if we are tempted. “If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out”. However, very few remember the passage where Jesus said, “I have come to save the world, not to condemn.”
The reason is simple. We are more inclined to believe that God is going to punish us rather than believe that we are loved unconditionally. There are many accounts where Jesus healed, forgave, and set free than condemn. The Lord condemned injustice. Seems like Jesus went out of His way to break Sabbath observance. Our Lord broke the Law to help people. Jesus defiled Himself by touching impure women, lepers, the blind. Remember that anyone with a physical impediment was thought to be sinful. His critics would follow Him to the door but would not dare to enter the home of a tax collector. One of the main reasons that Jesus was crucified was because of the company He kept. Rubbing shoulders with notorious sinners gave Him a bad reputation. Rather than associating with the priests, the rabbis, the scribes—Jesus chose to associate with sinners. He said, “People who are well do not need a doctor, sick people do.” When we are so full of ourselves, our self-righteousness, we do not give the Lord the opportunity to change us. The people that Jesus helped were willing to change. They were open to His mercy. Those who refused to listen were good people, but no miracles happened in their life.
Jesus came to raise the bar from merely following the Law to those who wanted to live for God. The folks who just obeyed the rules were afraid of the consequences if they disobeyed. But there was no passion in their heart. Sort of like the folks who are Catholics but never bother to learn more about their Faith. They want to “get by”. Unfortunately, so many see the Catholic religion like a “Club”. Catholic is a word that can be put on a form when asked, “What is your religion?” Indeed, countless have been baptized. Baptism is not magical. Like all the Sacraments, Baptism must be lived, not just claimed. What makes us different? What evidence can we offer that we are Catholic? We are given opportunities every day to live what we say that we are. Everyone knows that killing is a sin. But Jesus challenges us to a deeper understanding. “…whoever is angry with his brother will be liable…”. In other words, the resentments can destroy someone—can destroy us. Resentments eat away at our soul.
Consider the families who are angry with each other and refuse to be reconciled. Disagreements, inheritance, misunderstandings. No one wants to be the first to apologize. Jesus says, “Be the first.” Be bigger than the argument. Apologize first before you come to church. Otherwise, we have no business in church. “Go first and be reconciled with your brother and then come and offer hour gift.” Everybody is guilty. Everyone of us owes something because we are not free of sin. Only the Blessed Mother has a clean record. Therefore, we cannot judge others. No doubt we have been wronged. Yet, how many people have we damaged—even unknowingly. Negative thoughts occur every three seconds. However, we have the power to turn negativity into forgiveness. Frist step is to forgive ourselves. We usually dislike in others what we dislike in ourselves. Logically the first reconciliation must happen inwardly. Some issues we will resolve, we will only outgrow. A person at peace with themselves is slow to judge others. Remember that the only one that we can change is the person that we see in the mirror. Peace begins in our heart. Failures of the past cannot be undone but we can try not to repeat them. We are responsible for what we see, touch and say. The greater responsibility is to love rather than to accuse.
We are challenged to be like Christ. He did not come to condemn, but to save.