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00:00 / 05:47

4th SUNDAY OF LENT  

Jn 9:1-41
 
This is the story of Jesus healing the man born blind. After he had healed him, his disciples asked Jesus ‘who sinned, this man or his parents?’ A naïve view of karma. If something bad happens someone must have done something bad to deserve it. Jesus who embodies a higher law than karma, says that in this case no one sinned. The meaning of the blindness and its healing is as a manifestation of mercy.
 
Jesus then disappeared into the crowd but the man he had healed fell victim of the jealousy of the Pharisees. When he failed to deny what had happened, he was expelled. Jesus hears of this and seeks him out so that the cure he had performed can be upgraded to a full healing. The symbolic meaning of the event is manifested when Jesus reveals his true self to the man. It is not described from the perspective of the man, as the glorious self-disclosure of Krishna to Arjuna is in the Bhagavad Gita, but the man is shown something utterly overwhelming, surpassing the ordinary mind. The man declares his belief in what he has been seen and falls down and worships him.
 
The last part of the story zooms back to the pharisees who have been watching all this and try ineffectually to continue their confrontation with Jesus. In response, he says, ‘it is for judgement that I have come into the world’. This contradicts what he says on another occasion (Jn 12:47) that ‘I did not come to judge the world but to save (heal) it’. The larger and deeper meaning of anything depends upon seeing how it and its opposite can merge.
 
In the 15th century Nicholas of Cusa was on his way back from Constantinople where he had been part of an unsuccessful attempt to reunite the Eastern and Western Churches. He said on his journey he had a mystical vision which made him see that the ‘least imperfect name for God’ was ‘the union of opposites’. Jesus says he did not come to judge and he says he came for judgement.
 
The Greek word for ‘judgement’ gives us a frequently used word in our news bulletins today: crisis. Crises judge us; they make us investigate, weigh the different sides and expect us to decide what to do. All of these are aspects of judging. Blaming and condemnation may be necessary but they are not the essence of right judgement. The pharisees on the other hand (we have a tribe of pharisees operating undercover in our psyches) were harsh and unfair judges who leapt to condemnation before pondering the case. It is these nasty judges, operating within us unconsciously, whom Jesus does judge and call out of their hiding places into the light of consciousness. To be called into self-knowledge like this is about healing the ego-domination of the psyche, being saved from our dark side.
 
We live in a highly judgmental culture. At times, commonly on social media, it generates the violent  collective mind of the lynch mob. When someone, especially a figure who has been put on a pedestal, has their dark side exposed, do we judge in the right sense or, taken over by our own shadow, do we rush to condemnation and revenge? Jesus doesn’t say we should hide the dark side. But he says, if those who cannot see, deny their own blindness they have a guilt that sticks to them in a very ugly and dangerous way.
 

Laurence Freeman
Lenten Reflections 2023
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