|Today’s first reading stirred up memories from my childhood, memories that brought about confusion in those early years. When I was young, a significant amount of people I observed seemed to associate piety exclusively with prayer, church attendance, and alms giving to the parish. While those are all great parts of a spiritual life, many of these individuals also seemed to have a propensity to judge and gossip without hesitation. This also manifested itself in behaviors where those outside their circle and who were different were treated poorly nor accepted. It was hard for me as a youth to reconcile these contradictions as this is not what I was learning in school and ended up serving as a lesson on what to avoid to this day. This is clearly warned against in the Romans 2:1 which states “You, O man, are without excuse, everyone who passes judgement. For by the standard by which you judge another you condemn yourself… ”. What a great reminder to always to be kind and mindful, taking into consideration a person’s circumstances, looking to meet them where they are at in their life journey.
Additionally, the letter to the Romans speaks powerfully and challenges us to go beyond not judging and to ensure we are incorporating God’s words into actions and not abdicating this responsibility to others. For while monetary donations are important and necessary, we should on a personal level treat others with kindness and charity, and use our time and talent in the service of others as well.
In the Gospel, Jesus words to the Pharisees struck me as harsh and direct, but necessary. How often do we see examples of someone getting caught up in the trappings of success, fortune and position? They then are more concerned with maintaining and adding to their position then with the well-being of others. This left me to reflect on what am I working for? Am I keeping in proper balance any ambitions I have with adding to the greater good? Am I adding to someone’s burden or making it lighter? These to me, are great questions today’s Gospel will leave me to consider from time to time.