God who won’t let go. P van  Breemen Chap 8

When the New Testament, and especially Jesus himself forbids us more than once to judge or to condemn, it does not refer to a situation in which a competent and objective evaluation ation is required, but rather to those cases in which we assess the other unwisely and unfairly. "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" (Mt 7:1-2). Luke's gospel adds, "Stop condemning and you will not be condemned" (Lk 6:37). In his letter to the Romans, St. Paul writes, 'Why then do you judge your brother er [or sister]? Or you, why do you look down on your brother er [or sister]? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God" (Rom 14:10). The good news forbids us time and time again from judging. And yet in ecclesiastical circles this happens pens quite often. It almost looks like an aberration: an obsessive sive tendency to judge. We have, no doubt, a very extensive network of detailed norms and rules; if we use them to judge another, then we act contrary to the gospel. Moreover, we can make enormous mistakes in this regard. If we are not unselfish enough and free enough, if we do not lovingly behold the other as other, then we commit an injustice against the other person.

There is a story which might help us to be careful in judging ing or drawing hasty conclusions. In Germany there are fast food places where one may stand at high tables to eat. A woman goes into such a place for a quick lunch. She buys a bowl of soup and a sausage sandwich which she carefully carries ries to an empty table. She places the soup on the table, hangs her purse underneath, and then realizes that she has forgotten a spoon. She returns to the counter to pick up a spoon and a napkin, which she had also forgotten. When she goes back to her table, lo and behold, a stranger is happily spooning her soup. He doesn't look like a German; his dark complexion suggests gests an origin in Italy, Greece, or perhaps Turkey. And that man is eating her soup! First, she is flabbergasted. Then, seconds onds later, an enormous anger takes hold of her; she could have killed him on the spot! Another ten seconds later, she has pulled herself together and decides: he is brazen-well, so am 1! She resolutely strides to the opposite side of the table and starts eating from the same bowl. One would expect that the man would apologize and disappear. Far from it. He quietly continues to eat, smiling. Apparently he does not understand German, so verbal communication is impossible. But he is extremely friendly and his smile is his weapon. He is not in the least bit intimidated. The strongest provocation comes when he offers her half of her own sausage. At the end of this awkwardly wardly shared meal, he even extends his hand to her. By now she has calmed down enough to accept his handshake. He leaves, and she reaches for her purse. It is gone! She had known it from the beginning-that he was a thief, and now he even stole her purse. She runs to the door, but he has disappeared. She finds herself in a very hopeless situation; her credit cards, driver's license, and all her money were all stolen. Helplessly, she scans the room and then discovers, at the adjacent cent table, a bowl of soup (by now cold), a sausage sandwich (untouched) and her purse hanging underneath! During all that time it had never occurred to her that it might be possible ble that she, not he, was mistaken.

Reflection on our own lives will surely provide other examples of how easily we, convinced of our own right, fail to perceive the real truth of a situation.

Lord Jesus Christ, make us serve you and others without pushing ourselves forward, so that we may help our fellow men and women without humiliating them. Make us dedicate ourselves to everything that is lowly and unimportant in the world's eyes, so that we may do the things that no one else takes on. Teach us to wait, to listen and not to speak prematurely. Make us humble and poor enough to accept help from others. Send us on our way in search of your name, today and every day, forever and