Saturday, March 18, 2017
The final verse for this past Monday’s gospel reading has stayed with me all week.
Jesus said to his disciples:
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. (Luke 6:36-38)
I reflected on the last two lines, “For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.” The Greek word for “measure,” metron, means simply an object that is used for measuring, such as a measuring cup. I started asking myself what kind of “measure” I use with various people when offering them forgiveness or a patient hearing; I concluded that with a student who is being insolent to me in front of the class, the measure I use for patience is a lot smaller than the measure I use with someone who is, say, lying in the hospital. I wondered how many different measuring devices I use every day.
Then an image of a thimble came to mind, specifically the small white plastic one in my sewing kit. Is this the metron that I use when measuring out, say, patience with others? Is a thimbleful of forgiveness all that someone can expect from me? How much effort do I put into understanding what the other person is feeling at the moment -- a thimbleful? How much compassion does someone get from me when they are disturbing my routine?
I imagined myself standing in front of the Throne of Judgement and asking the Lord for his understanding of my weakness, and asking for forgiveness. And the Lord produces a small white plastic thimble and says, “Okay, here we are; let’s measure out some compassion, and then some forgiveness.”
As I sat there in church I decided that right after Morning Prayer I would get that thimble, put it in my pocket, and carry it around for the rest of the day as a reminder. All during the day, especially during class, I found myself reaching into my left pocket of my habit to touch the thimble. Simply knowing that it was there was an effective reminder to be patient, to be as compassionate as I hope the Lord will be toward me one day.
It worked so well that I kept it in my pocket all week -- it’s still there. I’m wondering if I should just let it stay there. At least for the rest of Lent? Or... maybe I should get a 50-gallon drum and pull it around with me?