Monday, June 25, 2007

YOU'RE GUILTY! AND BY THE WAY, WHAT IS YOUR NAME?

There are a few sins that people regularly confess that always give me pause. One common one is this, “I prejudge people before I get to know them,” as opposed I suppose to prejudging people after you get to know them. Or just plain judging them before you know them. Or judging a person after you know them. Ah, none-the-less I get what they mean. And it’s a good thing to confess.

I fell victim to being prejudged twice in the same day just a short while ago. This is in addition to the usual batch of suppositions and assumptions people make of a guy simply because he is wearing a Roman Collar. The first was when I was trying to exit the parking lot at the hospital. I was coming down one of the ramps when someone pulled in front of me and came to a complete stop so that the front of my car was aimed at the driver’s side window. I knew he had absolutely no idea I was there. I was in no particular hurry and so I thought I’d give him a little while to get his bearings. Then another driver pulled up behind him who had no patience at all. He plastered his hand on the horn visibly shaking up the man in the offending car. As unaware of me as he might have been, it was apparent that he was even LESS aware of the guy behind him. Thinking it was I who had blown the horn at him he turned and glared at me in all my glory, collar and all, and shot me nasty look and mouthed something that I was sure had nothing to do with any benefit to my soul. There was nothing for me to do. He took off so quickly I didn’t even have a chance to shrug my shoulders with an apologetic look in my face – or perhaps to point vehemently at the antagonist that was behind him, “He did it! He did it!”

But as bad as that was, it did not make me feel nearly as bad as the misjudgment of my character that happened when I got back to the rectory. With the embers of, “You can live with someone hating you mistakenly like this,” finally dying down came the discovery of a long and gracious message on the answering machine thanking me whole-heartedly for the wonderful flowers I had left at the hospital and how thoughtful it was of me to do such a thing. Apparently the calling card I left in the patient’s absence was misinterpreted as coming with a bunch of flowers that had arrived after I left. How embarrassing to have to say, “No, I actually wasn’t all that thoughtful. But now I wish I were.”

I know I judge people all the time. Throw a cigarette butt out the window and you’ll earn my ire. (A friend knows how much this disturbs me and got me a bumper sticker that stated, “Keep your butts in the car and drive,” but I was too much of a coward to put it on my car.) But let me cut in traffic and I will include you in my next rosary.


I’m trying to break myself of the whole judging thing. Who knows what is in people’s hearts and minds in even seemingly obvious situations? Besides, who needs prayers more, someone doing something you like, or someone doing something uncharitable? It’s nice to pray for people we judge to be good and worthy of our time and effort, but it is perhaps more beneficial for those who don’t, for there is a far better chance of them converting and we being able to be friends if we pray for them in their apparent brokenness rather than prejudging them and refusing prayer or friendship thereby completing the circle and sealing off the possibility of healing. I wish I could remember to whom this should be attributed, but someone once said, “Those who are in most need of love (and I would add prayers) are seldom those who are deemed most worthy of it. Thus it is the sinner who most needs prayers but often is the least prayed for.” (Or something like that.)

12 comments:

MJ said...

Wow, great minds think a like. My pastor just gave a homily this morning on not judging others because you don't know what's in their hearts or what else they are dealing with. I love the gospel today about noticing the splinter in your brother's eye but not noticing the wooden beam in your own eye. Makes me realize that my faults and sins might be much greater than the person I'm judging.

Adoro te Devote said...

mj ~ could that be because that's what today's Gospel is about?

:-)

Great minds indeed...great minds who read the gospel of the day. :-)

OK, I'm being a smart alek. And I just WENT to Confession this morning....now I'll go back.

Fr. V. ~ I think that quote is from Mother Teresa, but don't quote me on that!

Anonymous said...

Regards to your last sentence, Fr. V., it was my mom who said that. And yours.

(And yours, and yours, yes.)
I was going to post on the real crime of gossip which is of course judging, pre- or otherwise or even based on fact. It sets up a person to be disliked. It happens all the time at work.. by the time I meet whomever was discussed, I am astounded that they do not have cloven hooves and a stench. I'm learning to discount any assessment but my own, and I wish I were free of that, too, but I am working on it. I'm not sure what went into it developing. Judging, I mean. I find I have often been influenced by what was said in the home.. also in the community, also in the workplace, school, playground, from friends, but also nationally.. I must pray for my own less than sterling dismantling..

G

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I'm glad I'm not the only one who accepts with humility wrongful honking. I don't even point anymore. :-) I must say, my poor husband beeped once, lightly, even here in Booniesville, at the guy in front of us to let him know he could turn right on red. WELL.. the guy slammed his car into park, FLEW out of the car, turned purple, and practiced all his swear words right outside my husband's car window. *sigh..

G

MJ said...

Adoro-
I was just trying to be nice - you know practice the gospel!!!
LOL

Eileen said...

Whenever I hear the often repeated scripture verse "judge not lest you be judged", I include myself in doing so, but also conclude that if we *didn't* judge someone's behavior, etc., we could get ourselves into a whole heap of trouble. Society already has a hard time calling sin, sin...when we give a pass on judging someone because of their bad behavior, we don't help them or us.

Adoro te Devote said...

mj ~ ;-)

Anon/G. ~ I actually just commented and then my page crashed. I hate when that happened.

You bring up good points. I would venture to guess all of us have been affected by the judgments of others, either directly or when we are meeting someone for the first time.

tara said...

Father, good post.
I like what you said about praying for those who need it most. At work one of my co-workers, let's see, how can I describe her--mean. Once, confessing my sins of hate to my priest, Fr. Erik, he told me to pray for my enemies. So I did, and had a Mass said for her.

A while before the Mass, one day at work she was upset--she is trying to adopt, but no baby. Trying to comfort her--I told her about the Mass for her--she started crying--oh geeze. Not good with emotional outbreaks, especially when I cause them--I was very uncomfortable.

The most amazing thing happened next. She, her husband, and some of her friends, some of my Mormon co-workers--they all went to the Mass!

Now at work she always smiles and talks with me--she is nicer. In fact one day when I was having difficulty with one of my patients (I'm a nurse) she was the first to "step up to the plate" and help me--Wow, the power of prayer

Fr. V said...

"Fr. V. ~ I think that quote is from Mother Teresa, but don't quote me on that!"

That quote was from Adoro. ;>)

G. - Good story. I made me feel a lot better about the whole incident.

Once again - I mean this sincerely and think it often, I think I get more out of this blog than anyone. Thanks for you comments.

paramedicgirl said...

That's a really good post, Father, and a good reminder to not judge others. It's such a trap, and so hard to overcome. I bet you give the best homilies!

Winnipeg Catholic said...

An interesting story about being blamed by the driver. It's obviously a lot of pressure to wear a colar. In a number of ways. But I hadn't really thought about driving, it would be difficult to be under scrutiny for one's driving, whilst representing the church.

Fr. V said...

W.C.

There are times I scrunch down in my seat - realizing that I was speeding or cut someone off - not because I'm afraid that they would be mad at me - but count it against the Church - gads that makes me feel poorly.

Thanks P.G. - Every time I read your name I think you are from Parma.