Judging is not a good thing, especially when it comes to people with whom we disagree. It narrows the perception we have of the other person and blinds us to recognizing the good in the other. It surely doesn’t help when we are striving to see Christ in the other. Judgment also closes the door within us from receiving the gift of the other. Judgment is an unhealthy attitude in building relationships. Being judgmental is something I confess regularly in confession as I am sure most of you do the same.
When I was growing up in the rural community of Harrison, Wisconsin there was a woman by the name of Mrs. Magnus who never went to church. All the rest of us folks went faithfully every Sunday. My Dad would seek permission from the pastor if he could make hay on a Sunday because the forecast was calling for three days of rain. Keep in mind back in those days one did no work on Sunday unless it was necessary. The other farmers did the same if they wanted to make hay on a Sunday. Mrs. Magnus became very ill and sent for the pastor to receive the last rites. The pastor kept it to himself, probably because she went to confession when she received the last rites. She died and was buried from the church. Parishioners were complaining among themselves about the fact this woman did not go to Mass on Sunday and was given a Catholic funeral. Word got back to the pastor and the following Sunday we were told the parable of a landowner who went out to hire workers for his vineyard. Like the workers who labored the whole day and were expecting more pay because the last ones received a full day’s wage, the folks in Harrison were doing the same thing. Instead of rejoicing that Mrs. Magnus made it into heaven, the folks were complaining.
The inclusivity of God and the depth of His mercy are beyond our comprehension. God told the Prophet Isaiah in the first reading, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are you ways my ways (Isaiah 55:8).” I asked a fourth grade student once, “How wide is God’s love?” She answered, “Wider than the universe.” I am sure most of us are going to be surprised to find out who will be sitting next to us in the kingdom of heaven. When we make a judgment we presume that God sees it the way we do, but we always have to remember God has the ability to look into the heart of a person. God is the landowner who keeps going out into the market place calling people to come and work in his vineyard. The market place is society and the vineyard is the mission. Some labor a whole lifetime to carry out the mission and others labor only for a few hours, but the reward is the same—eternal life with God.
Maybe God used Mrs. Magnus to reveal something to our pastor about God’s inclusivity and mercy. I don’t know. I just thought it was unfair. Little did I know what God was doing, along with most of us in Harrison on the day Mrs. Magnus died. St. Paul in his letter to the Romans wrote, “For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor (Romans 11:34)?”
Sincerely yours in Christ,