Peace in the Face of Judgment

Saturday of the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities, do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what you are to say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.” Luke 12:11–12

Jesus lived this Gospel passage in His own life to perfection. He was arrested, interrogated, falsely condemned and questioned by the Chief Priest, Herod and Pontius Pilate. During His interrogations, sometimes He spoke and at other times He remained silent. In preparation for these interrogations, Jesus did not study each ruler ahead of time, trying to figure out what He should say and not say. He did not prepare a defense but relied upon His perfect union with the Holy Spirit and with the Father to be led at every moment in His human nature.

Though it may be unlikely that you will be arrested for your faith and put on trial for being Christian by the civil authorities, it is possible that you will experience various other forms of interrogation and condemnation at times during which you are challenged to respond. And more likely, if you are judged by another, you may be tempted to defend yourself in anger, attacking back.

This Gospel passage, when clearly understood and lived, should have the effect of calming you and reassuring you during any and every experience of judgment. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way” (# 2478). And though you must always strive to do this yourself, there will most likely be times when others do not act in this careful and truthful way toward you. Thus, if you are judged by another, even if what they say has truth to it, it is important that you not react with defensiveness and anger, unless the Holy Spirit has unmistakably led you to do so. The key message Jesus gives is that you must trust that the Holy Spirit will always lead you as you humbly and continually seek to follow His every prompting. This is only possible if you have built a firm habit of attentiveness to the Voice of God within your conscience.

Because the experience of rash judgment, detraction, calumny and the like are painful to encounter, you must prepare your defense ahead of time by learning to only rely upon the Holy Spirit in all things. Jesus exhorts us to do so! Therefore, if you daily and humbly seek to fulfill God’s will, hear His voice, and respond with generosity, then you can be certain that when the time comes and you experience these forms of judgment, you will be ready. The Holy Spirit will speak to you, inspire you, console you and give you every grace you need to respond in accord with God’s will. Do not doubt this. Have faith and confidence in these words and this promise of our Lord.

Reflect, today, upon the ways that you have responded in the past to the judgment of another. Try to call to mind specific moments when this has happened. Did you respond with similar judgments? Were you filled with anger? Did you brood over injury? Did you lose your peace of heart? If you have fallen into these temptations, then commit yourself in faith to believe what Jesus says today. Trust Him. Trust that He will be with you in those difficult moments in the future and pray that you will be graced to respond only as the Holy Spirit directs you.

My innocent Lord, You were put on trial, judged and falsely condemned. Yet in all of that, You were the Innocent Lamb Who always loved and spoke truth with perfection. When I experience judgment in my life, please fill me with peace of heart and trust in Your promise that the Holy Spirit will be with me, inspiring me and leading me in accord with Your perfect will. Holy Spirit, I abandon myself to You now and always. Jesus, I trust in You.