Holy Feast of St. Therese 2019
Only God can see what is in the bottom of our hearts;
we are half-blind.—St. Therese of Lisieux
Two great sins that are very common, so common in fact that they are taken lightly. Something is sinful when we fail to love as commanded by our Lord. It is something that we do to ourselves, and along with it comes a self-wounding that leads to alienation from ourselves, others, and sadly in the end, if allowed to grow in our souls, from God. Self-hatred leads to harsh judgments, and gossip about others, two great woundings’s that we do to ourselves.
I am blind in how God works in other souls. In the Christian path Jesus, first of all, tells us about Himself. He is the ‘Good-Shepherd’, who will leave the 99 righteous to seek out the one that wanders off. He does not become angry, or seek to punish the wandering lamb, but only wants to rescue and bring it back home. The wandering is done by the lamb, he needs to be found, or will die.
We are not lambs of course. When I wander, I more or less (probably less), know what I am doing, even if I do not discern where I am going. There are opposing forces at work in me. When I sin, I allow myself to be my own healer, savior, and seek to find a way out of the human condition, which is more often than not, painful, frustrating, with moments of joy, and peace. It is a hard journey for everyone.
When I begin to judge myself, it is often harsh, because it breaks another commandment, which is, I am to love myself, to love myself in truth. Self-hatred is based on a lie and leads to despondency and despair. So when I wander, I get myself in trouble.
I am blind to myself, so best to leave judgment up to God. St. Therese taught that we are never to despair of God’s love or mercy. I need to fear myself. God is not the problem, I am.
In judging another, I am more than half-blind, I am actually blind to myself. I see myself in others, it cannot be helped. I can only judge another by what is in myself. I am not talking about judging an action as wrong, but about judging another human being's place before God, the state of his or her soul, etc. I see only the surface.
When I do evil, there can be many factors involved that have their roots in my past. We are all sinned against, this causes our wounds, wraps us in chains of sin, and compulsion, which look alike but are not. When I do wrong, even if not a free act, I always wound myself deeper, and become a prisoner of what was done to me from my past. This can lead me to be harsh with others, until I learn where my anger is coming from, and begin to deal with myself, instead of looking at my reflection in others. As Jesus said: Mark, “Remove the log from your own eye before you take the splinter from the eye of another”. As we judge, so will we be judged. This is not a threat but based on the reality of how things actually work.
The Lord has come to save us from ourselves, our own hells, so to speak.
Judging, and gossip, or both sins I fall into, literally fall into. I can judge someone harshly without even knowing I am doing it. This can poison my soul.
The Lord once I take my walk with Him seriously, slowly, at the rate that I can bear, wakes me up to my own inner anger, fear, and anxiety, and how unchecked, can lead me to a life of deep suffering, because to judge another, to gossip about another, leads to alienation from others and from oneself. This is the bitter fruit of sin.
The suffering that flows from this is so pervasive that it is often looked upon as normal, even if at the same time lives are being torn apart by it. On some level, what we do to others is felt by ourselves.
So to love myself in Christ Jesus is my first concern, the rest flows from that. When mercy is received, and the grace of that understood, the need, or desire to judge others lessens, because there is more than enough to deal with within me, and at the same time to pray for the grace to love myself as the Lord commands—Br.MD