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June 21

FOCUS:    Trust in God in times of trouble.


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Today’s Gospel is a great reminder of an often-misinterpreted concept of judgement.  People are quick to say, “do not judge others” and don’t be so judgmental.  The danger in this statement is that we tend to let ourselves off the hook when it comes to judgement.  But Jesus says, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many.  How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life.  And those who find it are few.”  We will only find this narrow path to Heaven by examining our choices and actions and surrendering to God’s way time and time again.


Jesus’ statement, ‘Do not judge,’ is against the kind of hypocritical, judgmental attitude that tears others down in order to build oneself up. It is not a blanket statement against all critical thinking but rather a call to be discerning rather than negative.


It is important to examine our motives and conduct instead of judging others. The traits that bother us in others are often the habits we dislike in ourselves. Our untamed bad habits and behavior patterns are the very ones that we most want to change in others. As a follower of Christ, we are called to judge ourselves (examine our conscience), ask for forgiveness and strength to overcome our weaknesses.  Then we can lovingly forgive and help our neighbor.


Jesus also says, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs.” Dogs were scavengers in the time of Jesus and pigs (wild boars) were unclean. People used both titles as insults towards sinners and Gentiles. Jesus is cautioning the faithful to be selective about Christian witness, for it requires wisdom.  We should be wise and discerning about what we teach to whom.  Our actions speak louder than our words.  It is important to share our faith and love Christ by the way we live.   Again, not to be hypocritical by saying one thing and doing another.  We must live by the Golden Rule, “do to others as you would have them do to you.”


Lastly, Jesus spoke of a sheep gate, narrow in construction, so sheep could be controlled as they entered or left the pen. Going through the gate took time and required patience. A large or loose gate would allow many sheep to escape the pen, creating chaos, leaving the shepherd without control over his flock. Jesus applied this image to salvation.


Our salvation is a gift from God, but responding to salvation takes time, patience and wisdom. One cannot rush into heaven.  The life Jesus calls us to may not be popular, but it is right and true. Like a sheep entering the sheep gate, one answers God's call one step at a time.


How do I develop wisdom in my spiritual life? When was the last time I looked inside myself to find areas that I need to change to follow Christ more closely? Take time today to look inside.