Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Today’s gospel is unusual in that Jesus never appears, except as the subject of someone else’s discussion. And yet something he says a few verses earlier sums up this entire reading: "Stop judging by appearances, but judge justly."
It has been said that there are three ways of knowledge. The first is through our heads. These days we are taught that this is the highest form of knowledge. Rational thought is well disposed to comparing, contrasting, weighing, and judging. All of our science is performed through this method of knowledge. If you can’t make a rational, head-centered argument for your case, it is often dismissed as irrelevant.
The second way of knowledge is through the heart. This center leads you forward emotionally towards something you feel empathy for. This is the source of much of what passes for dialogue these days. You only need to turn the television on to any of the news "discussion" shows to see people shouting at each other, trying to make their arguments prevail through force of will.
The third way of knowledge comes from the "gut." This is called intuition. It is from here that we often can find information that is not readily available to our rational heads or charged with the fiery feelings of the heart. This is the source of impulses and half-formed thoughts that can come to us in dreams or while "wool gathering."
And yet, to properly "judge justly," we need to use all three forms of knowledge. In the Gospel reading we see each one of these used separately as if it contained all knowledge.
The crowd is lead by it’s heart, one side for Jesus, the other side against. They stand in the marketplace shouting at each other they make trying to convince the other side that they are right. The Pharisees call them accursed, spurning their way of coming to judgement. The Pharisees use their heads. They go back to their law books, to their scriptures, and search in vain for the correct rule to apply to this situation. Obviously, Jesus has no value because he comes from Galilee and they can find no scripture that says anything good comes from Galilee. The guards are in confusion because they intuit that there is something here that is good, but they’re confused by the orders they’ve been given and the shouting of the crowd.
Only Nicodemus, who previously visited Jesus, proposes the correct approach. ‘Let us bring him in and question him.’ Earlier, Nicodemus’ heart led him to Jesus to find out what He was about. But his rational mind became stuck on the notion of being born again. His intuition, however, tells him that there is something of value here, something to be examined.
In my own life, I’m often tempted to use only one of these three ways of knowledge. I want to rush quickly after what my heart desires or find the right rule or previous response so that I don’t have to think about what a situation calls for, or I often stumble about, not sure what action to take because I feel underneath it all there’s information that I’m missing.
This Gospel shows us that when we are confronted with decisions we may be in a period of discernment. There may not be a quick answer readily available to us. But as Jesus advise, if we take the time to "judge justly quote," we can listen to our heart, our head, and our ‘gut’, we may then be able to prayerfully dicer God speaking to us.
I pray today that I am able to listen to God in whatever way He is speaking to me and to correctly judge and perform His will.
Talib Huff is a volunteer and presenter at Christ the King Retreat Center in Citrus Heights.