by Ken Rolheiser
Judging, privilege and hypocrites

Mea culpa! Mea culpa! Mea culpa! May the Lord spare us from frivolous judgments. Yes, from making them and receiving them. Let me share a parable from
 A lady said, “Pastor, I won’t be going to your church anymore.”
The pastor responded, “But why?”
The lady said, “Ah! I saw a woman gossiping, a man who is a hypocrite, the worship team living wrong, people looking at their phones during service, among so many other things wrong in your church.”
The pastor replied, “OK. But before you go, do me a favour; take a full glass of water and walk around the church three times without spilling a drop on the ground. Afterwards, leave the church if you desire.”
The lady thought, “Too easy!” She walked three times around the church as the pastor had asked. When she finished, she told the pastor she was ready to leave.
The pastor said, “Before you leave, I want to ask you one more question. When you were walking around the church, did you see anyone gossiping?
The Lady replied, “No.”
“Did you see any hypocrites?”
The lady said, “No.”
“Anyone on the phone?”
“You know why?”
“You were focused on the glass, to make sure you didn’t stumble and spill any water. It’s the same with our lives. When we keep our eyes on Jesus, we don’t have time to see the mistakes of others. We will reach out a helping hand to them and concentrate on our walk with the Lord.”
At any church, there are going to be things to complain about. A church is filled with people, and people aren’t perfect. Only Jesus can set the perfect example. So let’s focus on Him.

Should Santa be in trouble for his HO remarks? Are you groping for the right noun when discussing the people who first lived on this continent? Do we need to be concerned about “issues of power and social justice in mathematics education?

Do we need workshops on “white privilege” and systemic issues as they appeared in Ontario schools this year? Do I need to worry about being born into a state of privilege and my inherent racism? Or is it all a leftist plot? Aghrrage! Yes, I made up that word.

Today we face a danger of over analyzing and judging as the lady in our opening parable. It is simple. If we focus on the example of Jesus, we will not spill the water. We can walk the path Christ outlined in the beatitudes which prepare our hearts for service.

Matthew 5:3-12 outlines Jesus’ lesson from the Sermon on the Mount: Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for justice, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those persecuted for justice’s sake. The Kingdom of Heaven will be theirs.

Then the corporal and spiritual works of mercy direct our actions in serving others: feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, burying the dead; as well as instructing, advising, consoling and comforting others, forgiving others, and bearing wrongs patiently.

Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.

(540 words)