In the world where information can be instantaneously accessed and shared, journalism has become more focused on viewership, more click-bait style, and formulated to be captivating in order to be popular, eye-catching, and appealing. If you and I take some time to read news articles nowadays, especially their titles and first few paragraphs, we can easily come to know how quickly they want to insinuate certain information and lead the viewers to come to a particular conclusion (as the writers would have liked). Unfortunately, all of these things make us become lazier in our understanding of reality, the situations, or people around us.
It is sad to see that our attention span in America is getting shorter and shorter each day (especially in comparison to other people around the world). This causes us to become quicker to judge, as well as the lack of personal efforts to follow-up, investigate, and understand what is really going on. News outlets and the media have become smart in how they present their “news,” becoming repetitive and including the information they would like to portray. They tend to commentate and manipualte in the beginning when people are still attentive and leave the more important and detailed information that is often crucial sprinkled throughout or at the end when people are less captivated. They like to put some types of “experts” or popular opinion polls or reports in the beginning to support their claims and insinuate the information in order to lead people to a desired conclusion or a particular portrayal of reality. This is a consumeristic and popular way to do journalism nowadays as to sell stories and push certain agendas or ideologies upon people who lack the motivation and effort to know more than what is being readily fed by the popular stations or outlets.
This creates a big problem because it makes us into a culture of popular opinions, armchair philosophers who are quick to pontificate, react, and leave our thoughts through a push of a button. We have bought into lazy journalism that only like to sell, intrigue, and captivate without the desire to seek the truth! There are too many people who are willing to simply be spoon-fed than to ask the hard questions, take the time to understand, and investigate in order to truly understand the bigger picture and reality itself. We have become people who are quick to condemn, judge, and conclude while slow to forgive, be merciful, and patient.
When the Lord asks us not to judge, He did not ask us to withhold or live without any judgment. That would make us incapable and robot-like people who are not made in His image and likeness. On the contrary, He asks us to pray, reflect, discern, and come to a right and just judgment according to the truth and in charity. It is very easy to come to a quick, retributive, or subjective conclusion as we like. We are so prone to quickly “judge the book by its cover” than taking the time to understand the person or situation. Nonetheless, the word “understand” invites us to take the time and effort to stand underneath what is reactionary, beyond the outer layers, what is catchy or seem to be short snippets of information in order to see everything as they are. Jesus has taught us to make judgments in charity so that no one is outside of divine mercy and forgiveness. We are called to judge in true righteousness and justification that are founded and formed by God‘s own divine justice and mercy — not ours or the world’s standards.
In Luke 6:27-38, we are reminded that He is quick to mercy and slow to condemn. He has been patient and forgiving toward us, so we should be forgiving and patient toward others, too. While it is easy to justify everything according to the worldly standards of manipulation, cheap justice, victimization, or retribution, He reminds us that divine justice and mercy will be measured according to the measured we have given to others. We are asked to be merciful just as our Heavenly Father is merciful.
This is hard! The Lord asks us to do what is humanly impossible. It is very hard to love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, and pray for those who mistreat us. This is all oxymoronic in human terms, yet it is paradoxically important and foundational for the life of Christian discipleship. Our Savior and Redeemer lived and put into practice all of those values, and we are called to do the same as His disciples. He could had done what was easy, effective, or favorable in our human terms when accusations, wrongs, and evil were dealt to Him. We are asked to become Christlike, to give what is of God even though it is hard at times. We are called to have the heart of Christ toward those who have hurt us, those who are not appealing, and those whom we cannot benefit from. He has told us clearly that ordinary people — as a matter of fact, even sinners — love those who love them and do good to those who do good to them. It is easy to lend and demand the same amount given or dealt with.
He has reminded us that our true reward and the favorable outcome will not be of this world’s standards. The true justification of our actions are of Him and our righteousness are found in Him. Who we are, how we respond, how we live our lives need to be in light of our relationship with the Almighty who has been loving, patient, and forgiving toward us and those who are around us. If He has dealt with us as we deserved, none of us would be here nor dare to be in His presence, yet we are given and blessed by His mercy. While the Lord is just, and we will answer to that justice at the end of our lives in front of the judgment seat, He has given us many opportunities to repent, convert our hearts, and change our ways with His infinite mercy and patience so that none of us who are seeking Him might be lost. As Christians, we are called to measure our lives, our words and actions, according to the standards of the Lord Jesus Christ and not of this world.
Therefore, let us take some time to step back, learn to make intentional efforts to understand the situation or the person that is hard to deal with at the moment. While it is so tempting to become reactionary, verbally or humanly expressive of how we like to deal with them or think that they deserve, let us make a conscientious effort to pray, reflect, and discern what is appropriate in the light of the Gospel and what He has taught us through His own life examples. Even if we find the person or situation hard to forgive at the moment, may we not quickly condemn and punish the person without giving him or her a chance to experience the mercy of God, beginning with our intercessory prayers for his or her salvation and conversion of heart.
If we begin with justice and end with mercy, we can learn — little by little — to seek and understand the truth as it truly is in the grand scheme of life and of salvation history, especially as to trust in God‘s divine providence in putting true charity into practice. If we begin and end everything in prayer, He will teach how to radically trust, forgive, and be merciful even when we cannot see or understand the outcome right away. This is who we are, and even when we failed at times, we can always put into practice what He expects and asks of us as His disciples.
Let us give thank to the Lord for He is good, for His mercy endures forever.