Word Magazine October 1968 Page 14
WHO ARE YOU?
Father Vladimir Berzonsky
Holy Trinity Church, Parma, Ohio
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.” (MATTHEW7:1)
It’s interesting the way a person is evaluated; the method changes from one generation to another. Notice, for example, when you are introduced to somebody, how your new acquaintance goes about learning more about you.
The older generation, those more than sixty years of age, always ask about your origin. Where were you born? Where did your parents and grandparents come from? Apparently from learning what city or village in Europe your ancestors originated, they feel able to know you better and to understand your behavior, personality, likes and dislikes.
To anyone less than sixty, origin and nationality are not so important. ‘They ask, “What do you do?” They evaluate a person by his occupation. To simplify, they judge the status of a man by his income bracket. We hear, “He’s a $7,000 a year man.”
To assist that type of character analysis, maybe we should leave the price tags on the sleeves of our suits and dresses, and on the left rear window of our automobiles. What really does this say about a person? After all nothing essentially changes in the man who moves from 137th Street to “Worstershire Regal Estates.”
Nevertheless, we continue the hypocrisy of judging a man by his market value in our society, even if this has nothing to do at all with his real self. He may be a “big man” in the business world, yet a tyrant and a bully in his home. Another man, working at the same machine for forty years, can be more full of the wisdom of the world, concern for humanity, love for his family, his faith and his world than any tycoon listed on the benefactor plaque at the public museum.
Christ warns us not to form judgments about others, not because it’s “not nice,” to evaluate them, but because it’s impossible. We who don’t really even know ourselves, can only make broad guesses at the personalities of others on the basis of what they like, what they wear, how they act and where they “come from.” How can a boy on the sidewalk with his nose pressed to the window know what the cake inside tastes like? He can only judge by what he sees. We know people only by the way they look and act. Their souls remain a secret, silent mystery. It is much more profitable for us to try and fathom our own souls, putting aright what is wrong with ourselves, before we begin straightening others.
Depression, alcoholism and despair result when a man believes he is only worth the price our society puts on him.
We in the Church must reach these men and convince them that we are not part of the “Establishment;” that in the Holy Name of our Lord every person’s soul, every human being has a value far greater than his “trade-in” value he has to sell in our society.
Just as Jesus, so we too must not judge a person by the values of society, but by the virtues of his heart. Those who are blessed: the poor in spirit, the humble, the pure, the charitable, are known to God alone.