This post is featured on Catholic Stand.
“Don’t judge me!”
A flabbergasted wrinkle joins my forehead. Wait. What? I’ve was just relating to a friend how the Church changed my mind about birth control, or maybe I was posting a funny meme about modest dress, or showing my picture joining a pro-life rally, when I heard those unbelievable words.
How is evangelization judging?
Evangelization, as defined by Pope Benedict XVI, is to:
“propose anew the perennial truths of Christ’s gospel.”Rash Judgment, according to the Catechism 2477, is
“a fault against the eighth Commandment committed by one who assumes the moral fault of the neighbor to be true without sufficient foundation.”
Usually when I’m posting on social media, or engaged in social conversation, I’m evangelizing, not dwelling on the state of someone in particular’s soul. Rarely am I imputing moral faults, weighing a soul’s aggravating or mitigating circumstance and banging on my gavel, condemning him to hell because no one died and made me judge.
Also, I’m probably yammering about things I believe in because they are important to me. In the same way people openly discuss home decorating, health, sports, cars, or work, I like discussing the topic of faith and religion. I don’t see anything wrong with that. Everyone exchanges tips or voices out opinions all the time. When someone says they’ve whipped up the perfect chocolate brownie recipe, they’re not automatically condemning everyone else’s box mix as dumpster worthless. When they tag people in a post inviting to a marathon, they’re not stoning those of us whose idea of fun is to sit on a beach chair sipping a berry smoothie for being a bag of lazy bones.
The problem is that in evangelization, the concept of sin will be addressed directly or indirectly. There will be a moment when the audience will grasp that the perennial teachings of the Catholic Church have not modernized into accepting all behavior as good, and this is where the feeling of guilt crops up, defense mechanism kicks in, and someone feels “judged”. In reality, the evangelizer has not declared another guilty beyond reasonable doubt, but a conscience is obviously prickled and the conscience judges itself guilty though the evangelizer hasn’t actually filed any charges.
I recognize this feeling, somewhat. My feathers get ruffled when a conversation implies it’s cruel to have more than the average 2.0 children or a post huffs that it’s negligent to homeschool my children. I feel angry, irritated, humiliated, misunderstood and defensive. But I never throw around the ‘judged’ word lightly. When I’ve had sufficient time to cool down and reflect, I realize that this person is not condemning me to hell, maybe he even had the best of intentions. But the bottom line is: I shouldn’t care much about his opinion if I’ve got one thing straight: he’s got no power to judge me. Jesus is my judge, and I will answer to Him alone.
Judgment is the Lord’s job. Evangelization is every Catholic’s.
Evangelization is proposing the good news, and the good news is this: though we are all sinners, you as much as I, Christ died for us and we have a chance at eternal happiness if we follow the Way. What is this way? Well, that’s what we’re trying to share! It’s a way to live, a truth to believe in, a person to love and obey. It’s shouting truthfully, excitedly, compassionately, charitably from the rooftops: “Come and see!” as Andrew told Peter.
Most evangelizers would still sit next to a lady who doesn’t censor her cleavage; we’d still hug an old gay friend and find his jokes funny; and send Christmas cards to the co-worker who had an abortion. Love the sinner but not the sin. But sadly, more often than not, it’s the “judged” party who takes offense and severs ties.
The irony of being accused of being judgmental is that the accuser is presuming that the accused believes the worst about the accuser, when in reality evangelizers love the persons we’re interacting with though we disagree on major issues. Often, we’re just sharing the treasure we’ve uncovered or offering a general solution if anyone happens to be in the same boat we were stuck in.
Please, don’t judge us rashly. Evangelizers are not praying for Noah’s flood to wipe out the earth, but pleading and trusting in Jesus’ Divine Mercy for the whole world.