Rash Judgment

Friends in Christ, Our Lord today gives us a warning about the wrong path in the spiritual life. ‘Be not angry – you will be liable to judgment. ‘Call no one Raqa – that is idiot – you will answer to the Sanhedrin. ‘Call no one a fool – you will be liable to the fire of hell.
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Judging another wrongly can lead to a crescendo of evil in the heart, and it all begins with suspicion. It is very easy to form an opinion of someone. We dream up all sorts of things about a person. But how many times are we wrong about what we thought of them? This is called rash judgment, caused by evil suspicions. (Summa Q. 60) St. Thomas says that suspicion is evil thinking based on slight indications, and this is due to three causes.
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First, because a person is evil in himself; his own evil heart makes him prone to think evil of others, We see malice in others when it lives in ourselves.
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Second, it can be because one has ill-will toward that person. If you already despise a person, then any slight indication will make you think evil of him.
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Third, it can be because of much experience: says St. Thomas: “old people are often very suspicious, because in their experience, they have seen many times the failings of others.”
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When one begins to doubt another’s goodness from slight indications, this is a venial sin; But when we believe a person to be wicked, in a grave matter, from a mere slight indication, this is a mortal sin. It is contempt for our neighbor. To think great evil of a person without sufficient cause, is to despise him, and do him injury. The Lord speaks of this when he says, to call someone a fool will make them liable to the fire of Gehenna.    
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Consequently, unless we have evident indications of a person’s wickedness, we ought to consider him good, We should interpret in the best light, whatever is doubtful. St. Francis de Sales says, we must always put the best interpretation on the actions of our neighbor.
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Now this may lead us to be wrong from time to time, thinking our neighbor good when he is not. But there is no sin in this. But to have an evil opinion of a good person, is to do him harm.
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How can we think the best of another? One way, is to recall for ourselves some times when we WERE very wrong about what we thought of someone. There certainly were times when we thought evil of a person and were completely mistaken. The Lord says, all thoughts will be revealed on the last day. So, let’s make them good thoughts.

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