On a flight from Brazil back to the Vatican, Pope Francis remarked, "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?" Francis stopped short of condoning homosexual acts, which the Catholic Church considers sinful, but he was clearly embracing LGBQT people as part of God’s people.
I would go further in affirming LGBQT rights; but I have to admit that when I see two men or two women kissing, I wince. Is this a trace of homophobia in my personality or a natural expression of my heterosexuality? I don’t know—but who am I to judge?
And sometimes I feel a prejudice against the poor—especially those who steal from Walmart, my employer. I could give multiple examples, but there comes to mind the two women who walked away from an open register while I was distracted helping someone else. They stole groceries worth about two hundred dollars. I can’t help thinking that God should punish them, but who am I to judge?
Then, there is my own checkered past. In many respects, my life is a failure. Mental illness prevented me from pursuing graduate studies at Princeton University and earning a doctorate degree. Instead, I spent many years in menial jobs as a cab driver, janitor, or warehouse worker. I did eventually get an M.A. in Foreign Language Education but perhaps squandered my degree by teaching in the public schools, where I wonder how many students I actually taught even the rudiments of the Spanish language. And in retirement, I gave up on writing a book about the counterculture at U.T. Austin. It was a really interesting and worthwhile project, but I didn’t have the stamina or energy to finish it. Another failure? Who am I to judge?
If God were to grant Eternal Life on the basis of achievement or service to humanity, I would possibly not enter into the Divine Presence. Of course, God is a God, not only of justice, but also of infinite mercy. That said, who am I to judge?
~ Richard Russell
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