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August 2006 

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Judge by yourself



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Judge by yourself
"Why even of yourselves judge you not what is right?"
(Luke 12, 57)

These words of Jesus were for the "crowd", that is for any body. They are pronounced after a harsh discussion with the Pharisees and the Scribes, intellectual leaders, who were credited to be qualified to define what is right and what is not.
obéissance aveugle With time, likely to laudably promote the Law of Moses, they had multiplied duties and interdicts without questioning the perverse effects of these rules. The essential elements of the "ten commandments" were embedded into an ocean of painful details and above all, the believers, abandoned to a blind obedience, had lost all their common sense and the desire of distinguishing what is important or secondary in life. 

Jesus wants to wake up their conscience, his "why" sounds like a shout of astonishment, in which one can see some misunderstanding, irritation even some discouragement or reproach. " But why don't you judge by yourselves? For him, it was evident, he made it clear when he said" the Shabbat is made for man and not man for the Shabbat" The essential is not to calculate the number of steps that are allowed but "to do good and save a life" (Luke 6,9) and to break the chains of somebody who is sick or in despair.

To the people who were listening, Jesus essentially said two things:

It depends on each of us to determine what is right to think and to do. It is not a sacrilege to question the rightness of the rules that are imposed on us and the value of the given arguments to convince us.

You have the power to do it in every sense of the word: on the one hand you have the ability to judge, intellectually and with enough skill to determine what is valuable or not. On the other hand, you have a real authority to do it, as a human being and as a member of the people of God, just like the masters who govern you and want to teach you. At the end it is your conscience that has authority to make you think and act.  

conscience personnelle

- The message of Jesus was going even further: it is not only a power but also a requirement. An adult believer has to dare to say: "At the light of what I humanly know and of what the Gospel tell me today, I think that… and these are my reasons". They may coincide with the reasons of the religious authorities; they can also diverge from them without to be scandalous or heretic. 

All along this large road of the liberty, Jesus wanted to reassure the crowd by saying: " judge by yourselves" it is not an insurmountable difficulty; it is no more complicated than to forecast the weather for tomorrow: "when you see a cloud rise out of the west, straight away you say, rain will be coming and so it is .And when you see the south wind blow, you say there will be heat and it happens. You can discern the face of the sky and of the earth but how is it you do not discern the events of this time? Yes why cannot you judge by yourselves what is right? (Luke 12, 54-57), what is right in your relationship with God and with your neighbour, in your way to love One and the other and in your way to welcome Jesus.

propre choix To judge by oneself does not mean to judge all the time without ever looking for enlightenment by people who know. For instance there are ethical questions on which it is not easy to find what is valuable, a personal judgement will be strengthened if related to the advices of knowledgeable or ordinary persons. But in the end, each person has to take upon oneself his or her own choices.