If there is a persistent fault or sin of us “religious people” it is our tendency not only to judge but to condemn, to marginalize, and to exclude. We see this fault in both of today’s readings and even the hypocrisy of those religious leaders who are judging and condemning. Jesus stops these condemning Pharisees and scribes in their tracks with the statement: “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to threw a stone at her.” Of course, no one is sinless so “they went away one by one.” Jesus, although sinless himself, refuses to condemn: “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”
Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount also tells us to stop judging others and instead to judge ourselves: “Stop judging, that you may not be judged…Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s or sister’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye…You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s or sister’s eye” (Matthew 7:1, 3, 4-5).
The church throughout its history has tended to judge, marginalize and even condemn gay people. The church is struggling today to help all to feel welcome since all are children of God, created in God’s image no matter what their orientation. The church has also made some missteps.
Pope Francis very soon after he became pope following this teaching of Jesus asked the question: “Who am I to judge?” A little later the Pope explained the whole context of this quote: “On that occasion I said this: If a person is gay and seeks out the Lord and is willing, who am I to judge that person?” “I was paraphrasing by heart the Catechism of the Catholic Church where it says that these people should be treated with delicacy and not be marginalized.”
May we as a church to make all feel welcomed and never feel marginalized or excluded.