SATURDAY AFTER ASH WEDNESDAY
Jesus noticed a tax collector, Levi by name, sitting by the customs house, and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And leaving everything he got up and followed him. (Lk 5:27)
Immediately? After the dinner he invited Jesus at his house? After he spoke with his accountant? How long does it take for the penny to drop and the life-changing call to be really heard? Perhaps we hear it immediately but superficially and then, when it drops to a deeper level of consciousness, it bursts open and action follows. The same happens with meditation. A long-time meditator suddenly realised ‘O, I see, I don’t have to think about the meaning of the mantra. Actually, I don’t have to think about anything, do I?’
Anything we do reflects the level of consciousness we are operating on at the moment. We constantly flicker on and off or slide up and down the scale. This shapes our sense of right and wrong and our interpretation of justice. It’s hard for most everyone – but not everyone – not to see that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is off the scale of anything reasonable or just. Yesterday of the 193 members of the UN 5 supported the action and 35 abstained. Majority, like might, doesn’t mean right. But on occasions it’s overwhelmingly hard to deny the impact that injustice has on us and the majority, even when they lack might, can be right.
Full justice doesn’t flower until we are able to see ourselves in the other and the other in ourselves. The desert fathers and mothers said this was the sign of a true monastic. It’s fruit that grows with meditation over the years. Until that level of awareness – where othercentredness and compassion become irresistible – our sense of right and wrong can be highly subjective and false. Then there is a deeper level where we not only see ourselves in the suffering and maltreated but put ourselves in their place to the fullest degree possible. When people approached Jesus for healing it seems he could not resist the force of compassion that rose in him towards the person asking. He felt one with them and the spirit of oneness that flowed between them was redemptive.
Justice without equality is flagrantly false. This is because at the deepest level of awareness we know we are all equal. Justice demands that this be reflected in all circumstances, material and social. The privileged who believe that their privilege - enjoyed at the expense of others is justified – become agents of in justice and oppression. Sadly it is they who run the social institutions of justice and the armies.
All are equal and all are universally accountable. Yet God, who has no favourites, is more visibly present on the side of the oppressed and all victims of force.
Simone Weil was passionate about justice and outspoken against force and oppression, not just intellectually but wholeheartedly and in the way she lived. A rival acknowledged of her that ‘she had a heart that could beat across the world.’ Justice requires that universality and passion.
Lenten Reflections 2022