Acts 5:17-26
John 3:16-21


How easy it is to judge. Not prudent judgement that helps us avert a disaster, avoid risk or choose a true path, rather judgement that leads to condemnation. Someone said this, did this, therefore they are [this type] of person forever. Jesus teaches Nicodemus that God does not look to condemn the world – Jesus was not sent to inflict punishment but to show us a different path. Compassion over condemnation. Generosity over malice. Love over hate.

Later in John’s Gospel (8:1-11), Jesus exemplifies this loving and generous compassion when he is questioned over the law of Moses. A woman is brought before him who has been caught in the act of adultery, and the law requires her to be stoned. Does Jesus judge her? Does he lecture, turn away or condemn? No. He ignores the rhetorical questioning and refuses to be caught in the Pharisees’ trap, simply by stooping to write in the sand. In his mercy Jesus reminds all those present, so willing and eager to cast the first stone, to examine their own hearts. Who on this earth is blameless? None it would seem, for they all move slowly away, from the eldest to the youngest, and none are left to condemn.

It’s a simple yet circular argument. Jesus came into the world to remind us that to truly believe in him we must search our hearts and acknowledge our faults and deficiencies knowing that God loves us anyway. Then we must look upon others, understand their shortcomings and love them anyway. We condemn ourselves only when we expect God’s mercy yet inflict harsh judgement on others, for this is simply our failure to love as God first loved us.

Angela Marquis works for the Hobart Passionists at St Joseph’s in Tasmania, with WATAC (Women and the Australian Church), and as a primary school chaplain.