Jesus’ command in today’s Gospel is simple and direct: “Stop judging.” Notice Jesus does not say, “Do not judge,” but “Stop judging.” He knows that “religious” people have a tendency to judge and condemn. Jesus tells us, “Stop it!” Instead of judging others Jesus suggests we look at ourselves: “Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?” Jesus’ pointed criticism is directed at religious people, particularly religious leaders. As we are very aware the self-righteousness and hypocrisy of religious leaders does great harm to the Body of Christ and even drives people away from God.
Today, Juneteenth, we commemorate the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. It is also a day for us as Christians to look at the log in our own eye, the sin of racism not only in our society but also in our church. The U.S. bishops in their pastoral letter against racism have written: “Racism still profoundly affects our culture, and it has no place in the Christian heart. This evil causes great harm to its victims, and it corrupts the souls of those who harbor racist or prejudicial thoughts” (USCCB, “Open Wide our Hearts, the enduring call to love”). This past May a teenage gunman who “harbored racist thoughts” and was under the spell of a white supremacist ideology known as replacement theory killed 10 innocent people in Buffalo.
You and I today are called to an examination of conscience, to look at the log in our own eye, to ask forgiveness for our own hatred and racism and to turn to the way of reconciliation and peace. St. Paul reminds us that Christ shows us this way: “For Christ Jesus is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh…that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile both with God, in one body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it.” (Ephesians 2:14-16).