“Ugh, why does this keep happening?” I sighed exasperated to myself as I wrote another referral for a child to have all his dental treatment under general anesthesia. This child was the younger sibling of another patient of mine, and the older one had already needed extensive treatment just a year prior.
I frustratedly typed out my clinical notes into the chart and signed them. I drove home that day feeling frustrated at the parents of this small child who needed to be put under general anesthesia at only three years old due to poor diet and limited dental hygiene habits at home.
But while driving home, I got that stern but ever-loving whisper into my heart.
Get off your high horse, Samantha.
I had done it again. I had judged this family for circumstances greatly out of their control. I held myself above this family. And I felt ashamed.
What I had forgotten in my judgment is that the parents both work outside the home, the father is rarely at home due to working two jobs, and they manage to put just enough food on the table and a roof over their heads. They grab what is packaged and easy and inexpensive at the store. They wait in long lines for basic necessities and health care.
These are my patients at the community clinic. But above all, they are beloved persons made in the image and likeness of God just doing the best that they can. He desires to adopt us all through the Sacrament of Baptism, as we read in today's First Reading, Ephesians 1:1-10. The last thing these families need is judgment from me. They need compassion, patience, and resources.
That day I was reminded that to love my neighbor is to withhold my judgment. I had sinned against my neighbor. And I was truly sorry.
My prayer, and maybe yours, today is to serve—my family, my friends, my neighbors, my community—with love.