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Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Addict, the Loser, Cousin Joe, Aunt Sue ...

Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you shall be forgiven. Luke 6:37

One of the ways in which we carry out the age-old human temptation to "become like gods" is to appoint ourselves judges of others. We even judge how things exist and how things should be done. Yet our judgments are inevitably flawed by our own "poverty" and selfishness. It is better to leave all judging to God as Luke tells us in today's Scripture reading. In our own frailty, it is not up to us to judge the homeless, the addict, the loser, cousin Joe, aunt Sue, a co-worker or anyone else we think is a loser. Our mission is not to judge, but to offer mercy, charity and kindness to all. "Blessed are the merciful, they shall obtain mercy."

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Anonymous said...

[HIA Buddy Map post from Cincinnati, OH]... Where they do a really poor job of helping the homeless, red tape galore and "we can't help you with that, you need to go to XXXX for that." [Greeting posted by] Mark A.

Anonymous said...

I love your message for today regarding judging...excellent!!!

PS. Will be passing it forward.

Anonymous said...

I thought of you when I read this. Here indeed is a great homeless saint, St. Benedict Labre (d.1783). And he became a saint without being a priest or a brother, he became a saint because of his deep prayer life.

“Benedict Joseph Labre was truly eccentric, one of God's special little ones. Born in France and the eldest of 18 children, he studied under his uncle, a parish priest. Because of poor health and a lack of suitable academic preparation he as unsuccessful in his attempts to enter the religious life. Then, at 16 years of age, a profound change took place. Benedict lost his desire to study and gave up all thoughts of the priesthood, much to the consternation of his relatives.

“He became a pilgrim, traveling from one great shrine to another, living off alms. He wore the rags of a beggar and shared his food with the poor. Filled with the love of God and neighbor, Benedict had special devotion to the Blessed Mother and to the Blessed Sacrament. In Rome, where he lived in the Colosseum for a time, he was called 'the poor man of the Forty Hours Devotion' and 'the beggar of Rome.' The people accepted his ragged appearance better than he did. His excuse to himself was that 'our comfort is not in this world.'

“On the last day of his life, April 16, 1783, Benedict Joseph dragged himself to a church in Rome and prayed there for two hours before he collapsed, dying peacefully in a nearby house. Immediately after his death the people proclaimed him a saint. He was officially proclaimed a saint by Pope Leo XIII at canonization ceremonies in 1883.”

[These days we ascribe such behavior to mental illness; Benedict's contemporaries called him holy. Holiness is always a bit mad by earthly standards.]