An antidote to critical thoughts

Friends in Christ,
many people in their daily life find that they are plagued by critical thoughts. We of course notice the failings of others, we see irritating personalities, sinful lifestyles, corrupt politicians, and enemies of God. There are many things that, simply are wrong.
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But this can lead us to fall into critical thoughts. Our Lord today refers really to this when he says, “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.’ So how are we to overcome critical thoughts?
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When we see the faults of others, we cannot pretend that we did not see them. If a person is not teaching their kids the Faith, and we notice this, we cannot pretend that it is not happening. If we or a co-worker are being treated unjustly, we cannot pretend it is not happening. We are required to make judgments about what is going on. We need to be able to distinguish good from evil.
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In the Gospel of St. Luke Chapter 13, Jesus says, ‘Why do you not JUDGE what is right?!’ So we must never approve of evil behavior. St. Paul says, ‘the spiritual man JUDGES all things.’ 1 Cor 2:15 So we HAVE to make judgments.
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But when we see something wrong, there are two reactions we can have. The first is to say, ‘That person is a loser,’ or, we ‘write someone off’ as useless; in our mind we throw them on the trash heap. This is to condemn a person. Jesus says, ‘Do not condemn.’
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The other reaction we could have, is to say, Lord, have mercy on us. ‘Help that person, and help me too.’ And we might have to address the wrong, if we can. We should also consider all of our own faults, and remind ourselves that we are all part of fallen humanity, we are all sinners in this together. As scripture says, ‘Lord, if you revealed all of my life’s sins, who could endure it?’
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A person was recently feeling critical of a teenager’s behavior, but then he thought, ‘I guess I was kind of like that too.’ St. Francis de Sales says, we should try to always put the best spin on what we see in others. Lord, ‘He doesn’t know what he is doing.’ ‘Maybe that person had bad influences, or was taught wrong by his parents. ‘Look at how I’ve been blessed and so more is expected of me than this man.’
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The point is, we can either play the role of Satan, which is to be the accuser, the condemner – or we can be another Christ, who intercedes for people, prays for sinners, and sometimes correct them. Yes, sometimes we should try to address the evil or wrong that we see, or speak to the person who is doing something bad; but with charity.
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If we have condemning thoughts, we are really incapable of helping correct that person. You cannot correct someone that you do not love. But on the other hand, if our heart is merciful and understanding, we might very well be able to help them. Jesus sums up the attitude we should have: ‘Be merciful, just as your heavenly Father is merciful.’

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