St Michael and All Angels

Observatory, Cape Town

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Trinity IV : Fr Tony Hogg

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 Trinity 1V
My late friend Fr. David Lloyd when he was driving would exclaim, “Silly, stupid driver”, 
then after a pause would add, “Silly, stupid Christian driver, of course!” I too can be heard 
to mutter, “Oh, for goodness sake” on my judgment of another driver. The beauty of these 
two cases of judgment is that they cannot be gainsaid and we both remained unassailable as 
we drove on our merry ways! We shall see how wrong we are!
Today’s gospel is all about Jesus’ teaching on judging, and therefore not being ourselves 
judge. Amongst other things it is a reminder that when we point the finger at others, you 
have three fingers pointing back. Jesus shows us two realities, either judgment or 
condemnation; or giving and forgiving. He leaves the choice of which we will make our own to us.
His instructions come in four pointers:
1 judge not and you will not be judged
2 condemn not and you will not be condemned
3 forgive and you will be forgiven
4 give and it will be given to you
Jesus is not talking about understanding what is or is not sin nor is he calling upon us to 
tell someone to stop sinning. In this context judging means that you determine someone is 
unworthy of mercy – from God and others. We know that mercy means the possibility of 
redemption and a new start – with God and others. We know how important that is in our 
daily lives and how essential it is to keep whatever relationship we have, whether it be in 
marriage, in work, between friends, between teacher and pupil.
We know this too because it is what Jesus tells us this morning – ‘Be merciful, just as your
 father is merciful’ we see that God is indeed in the forgiveness game. So what game are we
 in? Well ever since Adam, let’s face it, we’ve been in the blame game.
As soon as sin entered into the world, man hid and tried to cover himself by his own efforts. 
Mercifully the Lord came to expose him and, ultimately, to clothe him in acceptable 
coverings. Yet in his exposure man initially rejected the way of repentance went on the 
attack. Adam blamed the woman, the woman blamed the serpent ( and in the old joke) the 
serpent didn’t have a leg to stand on. This has been true of the behavior of man ever since.
We all know the idea – the folded arms treatment – “We cannot be friends; you are not like
 me, I am not like you, so we cannot be in a friendly relationship.”  Or it might be the 
shaking head – suggesting shame on them and keep your distance. We make them the 
scapegoat, and by doing so we are far from the words of Jesus again this morning; “Do not 
judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Forgive 
and you will be forgiven.”
However, remember this is not about saying, ‘Anything goes’, neither is it about pretending
 you’re blind to everyone’s faults. Sadly in our world today nobody seems to be responsible 
for anything; just look at the attitude of so many to the climate. What Jesus wants us to be 
discerning in our dealings with others and therefore ourselves. He wants us above all to 
stop feeling superior to others. If someone else is going wrong in the Christian life, don’t
 use it as an opportunity to score points, or to feel superior, rather use it as an opportunity 
to examine your own heart and recognize your own sin. Use it too as an opportunity to 
show mercy, to help them out of their own sin, and therefore you won’t live your life in the 
bitterness of condemnation.
Remember if we play the blame game we will always lose. We think the truth is on our side. 
The real tragedy about judgmental people is that they never think there’re judgmental. All 
they know is that everyone is wrong; everything is unfair and it’s everybody else’s fault. “I’m alright Jack” thank you.
So our reassurance with all this, and as ever, it always does lie, is with Jesus. He ‘comes 
down to earth from Heaven’ and is the one person who could indeed condemn us, but as 
John tells us 3: 17 he did not come into the world to condemn the world but to save the 
world. He comes to us and opened his outstretched arms and said: “I know that you have 
sinned – come close.” He bowed his head to all the sins we’ve ever committed, and he took 
them on himself. If in doubt just look at the bowed head of the cross. It is as if he said: 
Shame on ME.”
So, dear people here this morning, let us all be honest with ourselves – if we are judgmental 
it is because we have lost sight of the cross. Let us not live in a life of condemnation and 
judgment any more. There is no condemnation for us. There is no heavenly finger pointing 
at us; there are no folded arms, no shaking head. When we look to heaven, we don’t see a 
frown, we see a smile; the smile of a loving and all forgiving creator.
Well, my dears, isn’t that just enough to send us all off home with a spring in our step and 
a  forgiving and forgiven song in our heart!


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