Monday in the 12th Week of Ordinary Time (I)
Leaving the House of Judgment
Readings: Genesis 12:1-9; Ps 33:12-13, 18-19, 20 and 22; Matthew 7: 1-5
Today we are led to consider two difficult journeys. We first have the journey that Abram is asked to make in the first reading. He’s already 75 years old, yet God asks him to leave your country, your family and your father’s house... And Abram’s advanced age is not the only difficulty, for God doesn’t quite tell him his final destination. All he is told is that he must leave for a land I will show you...
The interior journey that Jesus invites us to undertake in the gospel is no less difficult. Do not judge, says Jesus. Easier said than done. And isn’t a large part of the difficulty due to the fact that we’re so familiar with Jesus’ message and can very quickly recognize its truth? We know well what Jesus means when he says the judgments you give are the judgments you will get. We know what it’s like to judge others even as we ourselves continue to return to the confessional with the very same sins time and time again. In judging others we effectively judge ourselves. We find ourselves being held to the very same standards we apply to others. And when this happens we may either fool ourselves into thinking that all is well or else we come face to face with our own weakness. Isn’t this why Jesus invites us to consider first the planks in our own eyes? By paying attention to our own wretched condition, our own inability to live up to the very standards that we set for others, we are able to hear God’s invitation to us to leave this place of self-reliance, self-deception and self-condemnation, to depart from this house of judgment. But where are we to go? And how are we to find the strength to travel? Abram’s experience is instructive.
Although his final destination is not revealed to Abram at the start, God does tell him something very consoling. If only he sets out on this journey, God will bless him, and even make his name a blessing for others. And precisely because he doesn’t know where exactly he is going, Abram clings to this promise of God. He leaves his father’s house for the land of blessing that God promises to show him. He places his hope neither on his own wealth nor on his own virtue, both of which are considerable. Instead, as we heard in the responsorial psalm, Abram places all his hope in God alone. And his devotion is very clearly expressed in how, at each stage of his journey, Abram erects an altar to God.
On our own interior journey, are we not called to something similar? Are we not called to leave the house of judgment for the land of blessing that God promises to show us? Are we not invited to rely no longer only on our own resources, our own virtue, our own understanding, important as these are, but to place our hopes on God alone? Are we not asked to imitate Abram in dedicating every stage of our journey to the God who promises to bless us and to turn us into blessings for others?
What journey are we being invited to undertake today?