Only when we call things by their name can we also deal with them head-on
Today’s readings can be found here. Read Fr. Epicoco’s brief reflections on the daily Mass readings, Monday through Saturday, here. For Sunday Mass reading commentary from Fr. Rytel-Andrianik, see here.
[The Italian translation of today’s Gospel uses a word that could be rendered ‘judge’ in English, whereas the English translation of the Gospel uses ‘interpret.’]
Jesus in today’s Gospel invites the crowds, and each one of us, to do something that we very often misunderstand: judge.
“Jesus said to the crowds, ‘When you see a cloud rising in the west you say immediately that it is going to rain–and so it does; and when you notice that the wind is blowing from the south you say that it is going to be hot–and so it is. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?’”
The judgment Jesus is talking about is not the judgment of the courts, and it is not the judgment of pointing fingers. It is the judgment of calling things by their name. It’s something we rarely do but should learn to do constantly. In fact, only when we call things by their name can we also deal with them head-on; otherwise we only passively experience them.
But the real reason we don’t want to call things by their name is because we don’t want to take responsibility for them. Indeed, knowing that something is true or false, good or bad, makes us infinitely responsible for the choices we make. In reality, we can never be free until we learn to tell ourselves the truth out loud.
Judging, in fact, is a practice that is primarily about our relationship with ourselves. The greatest gift we can give ourselves is to have the courage to tell ourselves the truth, and then to have the courage to live for it. This was precisely what someone wished for me many years ago on my birthday: A priest whom I have always respected gave me (a teenager at the time) a book of the collected works of Plato, and wrote on the first page, “Know the Truth and live for it.” But Plato couldn’t know who that Truth really was. That priest and I did: Jesus.
Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.