A Meditation on Rash Judgment

Posted April 6, 2010

A teacher sent a note to a pupil’s mother: “Take your son out of school. He is too stupid to learn anything.” The pupil was Thomas Edison.

Rash judgment is unfounded “labeling” of people negatively. It’s the sin most frequently committed and least frequently confessed.

Prejudice” means simply pre-judgment. Most pre-judgments are “rash” and  found to be false; hence, prejudice has the connotation of being injurious.

Scripture chronicles many examples of God defending and supporting victims of rash Judgment. Tobit (2: 9-14) falsely accused his wife of stealing a goat. Later, he weeps in remorse for his rash judgment. Sarah, daughter of Raguel, was falsely accused of killing her seven successive husbands, each on their wedding night. Raphael Archangel responded to both, Tobit and Sarah, first, by curing the eye disease of Tobit and then leading his son, Tobias, to happily marry the unjustly accused Sarah, the victim of serious rash judgment. Through Archangel Raphael God defeated Asmodeus, the demon whose evil intervention had killed Sarah’s seven husbands. The Lord vindicates those judged rashly (Matt. 5:11-12).

Note St. Thomas’ definition of rash judgment (Summa Theologica, Quest. 60, art 2): “When the human intellect lacks certainty, as when a person, without any solid motive, forms a negative judgment on some doubtful or hidden matter, it is called judgment by suspicion or rash judgment.”

Rom. 14:3-4: Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat, for God has welcomed them. Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their Lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

Rom. 14:13: Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another.

1 Cor. 4:5: Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart.

Matt. 7:1: “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.

For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.

Luke 6:37: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.

Rom. 2:1-4: Therefore, you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. You say, “We know that God’s judgment on those who do such things is in accordance with truth.” Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God?  (It’s hypocrisy, if you foster the same faults you condemn in others)…Or, do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? (Even if you rightly judge the failure of another, all are subject to God’s forgiveness through repentance.

One pastor set up a “book of complaints” for parishioners berating other parishioners, and asked each complainer to sign his or her complaint as testimony to be read publicly when each accused person was to be publicly confronted. Hundreds made complaints, but no one signed their   complaint. For the entire year, no signature was found in the book.

Let us pray that our “book of complaints” at the end of life will be blank.

John H. Hampsch, cmf