Editor’s Note: Newly-commissioned Lay Missioner Jenny Tsui shares her journey of acquainting herself with the gift of Right Judgement. With being one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, she continues to see how He has been using this gift and working through her.
To preface this, I had to do a little research to write this post. Being from a Protestant background, Right Judgement sounded heavy and final, like bringing the full righteous judgment of God onto people or situations. It felt fraught, overwhelming, and maybe a bit scary; inviting me into darker tendencies of self-righteousness and condemnation.
So just to be sure, I googled it. And was very surprised to learn that in the Catholic tradition, Right Judgement is one of 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit as derived from Isaiah 11:2-4. It is also referred to as “Counsel”, and is the supernatural ability to know the right thing to do in a particular situation, almost by intuition, and is related to prudence. It’s not a lofty, legal or moral judgement, but a practical, concrete sense of the right course of action in the midst of difficult circumstances.
What a wonderful gift to enrich ourselves with! That there is a gap between theory and practice, and right judgement is there to fill the gap. My religious leaders, texts and teachings provide me with a lot of theory, but there have been so many times when I feel caught between a rock and a hard place. With only seemingly wrong options, I felt lost as to how to apply these theories. And those situations can happen in a flash–a particularly heated meeting, a specific emergency situation, an unexpected revelation from a friend. There isn’t always time to search the Bible, call my spiritual community, or step away in contemplative prayer. However, there always seems to be plenty of time afterwards to wring my hands on whether the right decision was made, whether it could have been different, or to chastise myself on not thinking quickly enough.
And so God provides for us with Right Judgement, with a gift straight from His Spirit.
This year has been a year of difficult circumstances and morally ambiguous situations. In my personal journey towards overseas service, I’ve struggled to understand how I might resolve a deep need to live differently within another culture against a reality of privilege, cultural imperialism, and existing needs at home. Most of us can relate to the difficult decisions made because of COVID-19: how do we weigh public health against social, emotional and relational needs? How do we grapple with the disparate access to healthcare, safety, and security that reveals deep, existing injustice in society? And because of COVID-19, these are no longer theoretical questions for theory insists on practice.
This blog post gave a name to the answer I’ve sought: to pray, seek, and find Right Judgement from the Lord. I can see how He’s supplied this gift in the past, even as I haven’t recognized it as such. And I can now give Him His due gratitude, credit, and responsibility. I feel a burden lifted from my shoulders, a sense of God’s care and compassion on my small, limited self, and a renewed confidence for the future. I pray that all of us may be gifted with Right Judgement, just as we need it, in the days to come.