Reading I: Acts 2:1-11
Responsorial Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13
or Galatians 5:16-25
Gospel: John 20:19-23 or John 15:26-27; 16:12-15
If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.
Who Am I to Judge?
Perhaps the single, most-often quoted line from Pope Francis is his response to a question he was asked vis-à-vis the morality of a particularly-dicey issue. His, infamous-famous reply: Who am I to judge?
Although this remark is often assumed to be flighty and less-than-serious; it is, in fact, on pretty safe ground. Jesus, it seems, says basically the same thing. For example, in his conversation with Nicodemus in John’s Gospel, he, in essence, says: I judge no one.
If the Gospel of John is to be believed, then Jesus judges no one. God judges no one. But that needs to be put into context. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t any moral judgments and that our actions are indifferent to moral scrutiny. There is judgment; except it doesn’t work the way it is fantasized inside the popular mind. According to what Jesus tells us in John’s Gospel, judgment works this way:
God’s light, God’s truth, and God’s spirit come into the world. We then judge ourselves according to how we live in the face of them: God’s light has come into the world, but we can choose to live in darkness. That’s our decision, our judgment. God’s truth has been revealed, but we can choose to live in falsehood, in lies. That’s our decision, our judgment to make. And God’s spirit has come into the world, but we can prefer to live outside that spirit, in another spirit. That too is our decision, our judgment. God judges no one. We judge ourselves. Hence we can also say that God condemns no one, though we can choose to condemn ourselves. And God punishes no one, but we can choose to punish ourselves. Negative moral judgment is self-inflicted. Perhaps this seems abstract, but it is not. We know this existentially, we feel the brand of our own actions inside us. To use just one example: How we judge ourselves by the Holy Spirit.