Monday, 27 May 2013

Measure for Measure

As you judge, so you will be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.

Judgmental men like to share their judgment that this passage from the Sermon of the Mount is frequently misinterpreted. And so it is, wrested from Jesus’s mouth as a paper shield against Christian scorn. The saying itself, however, is clearly a warning against arrogance and contempt, or positively put, an exhortation to mercy and forgiveness.

Since this text is so well-known even among non-Christians, it came as a surprise to me to find its parallel in the Gospel of Mark (4,24), which occurs among several parables comparing the kingdom of God to a seed. St. Mark remembers the saying about measuring in a different context:

Take care what you hear. The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you.

Intriguingly, Jesus does not say here that men might fall short of (or exceed) the moral measure they use for others; instead, measure is related to gift. The measure (metron) is not twodimensional, but threedimensional: of content, not of extent. It is not only used for calculation, but also for reception, storage and sharing.

Storage of what? Take care what you hear: the measure is made to contain the word, sown, grown, and harvested. We are encouraged to open our ears, for if our heart rightly measures the word of Jesus as divine and life-giving, the word will be measured out to us – and still more will be given.

(Reader, if I am interpreting this wrongly – for it remains cryptic – grant, of your courtesy, the excess to my small measure!)

The Gospel of Luke seems to synthesize Matthew and Mark (6,37-38):

Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment