Saturday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Today’s Gospel, together with those of the last two days (Lk 12:49-59) offers material that can help us understand the basis of Christian discernment. The word “discernment” comes from Latin discernere, meaning “to separate (cut apart).” According to Pope Francis, what is separated in Christian discernment are, on the one hand, those things that come from God, and on the other, those things that come from the devil.
In Thursday’s Gospel, Jesus said, “I have come to set the world on fire;” Ignatius of Loyola exhorted his companions to do the same, as companions of Jesus. The separation in discernment does not, in the first place, bring peace, but division (separation divides). In Friday’s Gospel, Jesus insisted that in order to discern correctly, we must judge. In fact, he reproaches us for not doing so: “why do you not judge for yourself what is right?” Such judgment is an obligation for one who earnestly desires to follow Christ, for if one does not learn to “interpret the present time” (which is the time that God gives us to do his will), then one is incapable of following the one who invites us to follow him in our temporal existence.
But today’s Gospel reminds us that ultimate judgment of another’s soul is not in our hands, and so we are forbidden from making an ultimate judgment concerning the salvation of even the least and last of God’s children. But, if we refuse the grace to judge in order to discern that which God asks of us, then we bring judgment upon ourselves. It is interesting to note that we never have the right to interpret someone else’s suffering of this or that calamity as being because they are greater sinners than others. They are not. But just as Jesus makes this observation, he warns us, “if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!”
So judge not others, but judge (the signs) for yourselves, in order to know God’s will. And yet, don’t judge yourself, for God does not desire your condemnation. Though we may not yet bear the fruit that God might wish, Jesus does not give up hope. “I shall cultivate the ground around [you] and fertilize it; [you] may bear fruit in the future.”