Today’s epistle reading is from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 5:20-26.
Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the Church; and he is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the Church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for her, that he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word.
St. Paul admonishes the Ephesians to give thanks always. The blessed Jerome writes:
Paul now calls us to give thanks always and in everything. This is to be understood in a double sense, both in adversity and in good times. In this way, the mind rejoices and bursts out in gratitude to God, not only for what we think good but for what troubles us and happens against our will. It is obvious that generally we are to give thanks to God for the sun that rises, for the day that goes by, and for the night that brings rest, and for the rains that come, for the earth that brings forth fruit, and for the elements in their course. Finally, we are thankful that we are born, that we have being, that our wants are sufficiently taken care of in this world, as if we lived in the house of an extremely powerful family patriarch, knowing that whatever is in the world has been created on our account. In this way, we give thanks when we are grateful for the benefits that come to us from God. All these things, however, the heathen also does, and the Jew and the publican and the Gentile.
But the second sense of giving thanks is seen in the special gift of Christians, to give thanks to God even in seeming adversity. Those who are saintly in their own eyes are prone to give thanks to God because they have been released from dangers and afflictions, but according to the Apostle, the greater virtue is to give thanks to God precisely amid those very dangers and afflictions.
Today’s gospel reading is from St. Luke 6:37-45.
“Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” And he spoke a parable to them: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.
“And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
Jesus’ teaching is very clear: that we are not to judge another person. There are no exceptions to this rule. St. Cyril of Alexandria writes:
Jesus cuts away from our minds a very unmanageable passion, the commencement and begetter of pride. While it is people’s duty to examine themselves and to order their conduct according to God’s will, they leave this alone to busy themselves with the affairs of others. He that judges the brother, as the disciple of Christ says, speaks against the law and judges the law. The Law-giver and Judge are one. The judge of the sinning soul must be higher than the soul. Since you are not, the sinner will object to you as judge. Why judge your neighbor? But if you venture to condemn him, having no authority to do it, it is yourself rather that will be condemned, because the law does not permit you to judge others.
Whoever therefore is guided by good sense does not look at the sins of others, does not busy himself about the faults of his neighbor, but closely reviews his own misdoings. Such was the blessed psalmist, falling down before God, and saying on account of his own offenses, “If you, O Lord, closely regard iniquities, who can endure?” Once again putting forward the infirmity of human nature as an excuse, he prays for a reasonable pardon, saying, “Remember that we are dirt.”
Let us seek only to see our own sins and never desire to even consider the sins of another. Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us to him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.