Saturday, 4th Week of Lent               

            There is a legal principle called the “presumption of innocence” – which means that one is considered innocent unless proven guilty.

            Nicodemus tried to make the same point with the Pharisees who had already condemned Jesus – by protesting: “Does our law condemn a person before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?” The Pharisees had rejected Jesus without even an attempt to investigate the facts. They said that the Messiah-Prophet would not come from Galilee but from Bethlehem. With but little trouble on their part they could have discovered that though Jesus grew up in Nazareth in Galilee, he was indeed born in Bethlehem. The Pharisees were guilty of rash judgment.

            Rash judgment is coming to a conclusion before all the facts are known. Unfortunately, it is a fault that even good people can fall into. We live in a society that promotes the culture of rash judgment. There seems to be a strong demand for instant judgment.

            Just like the Pharisees, we also judge our neighbor without first trying to know some important matters about him or her and about his or her situation. We think of and spread a lot of malicious things based only on what we have seen or observed – without trying to know the whole truth. We listen to or talk about ‘tsismis’, accepting them like “the only truth” – not giving even the least of the benefit of the doubt. We are prejudiced to some people or have negative impressions of them because of what they did or did not do before – without even trying to know them better. Many friendships have been ended, marriages terminated, and homes broken due to rash judgment.

            We can make a moral evaluation of the deeds and actions of someone. But we are not to make a moral judgment on the whole being of a person based only on particular deeds and actions of that person. We can in no way express an opinion as to his or her spiritual state, at the moment he or she is performing these actions. Unless we claim to be ‘gods’. And that is exactly what we do when we judge others: we play ‘gods’. There is just no way we can see the motives of one’s heart. As Joseph Krempa puts it: “None of us has an X-ray powerful enough to see through the soul of another person – that is, to see what God sees there.” Judgment is not ours to pass.

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