Jesus points to the fact that his listeners (and his detractors) could certainly interpret indications of oncoming weather – clouds mean rain, wind from the south means heat – and he suggests that interpreting indications of spiritual realities should be just as easy. But is it?
Spiritual indicators are, on the one hand, just as obvious as weather indicators; they are, on the other hand, just as likely to be misinterpreted. The “secret” to interpreting properly is in the dispositions of our own hearts and minds.
The Jewish people should have known the signs of the Messiah’s coming, announced for centuries by the prophets. St. John the Baptist had paved a clear way, announcing that the Kingdom was at hand. Jesus himself was performing miracles of healing and restoration, preaching the coming of the Kingdom among them, and announcing (sometimes subtly, sometimes more clearly) that he was the One sent by the Father. And yet, those in authority did not want to accept these signs. Jesus called them out, making clear their reasons: they were not sincere in their intentions, they did not have the necessary good will, they had a personal interest in protecting the status quo because they liked the power and prestige they enjoyed. This roaming rabbi did not promise to overturn the rule of the Romans or restore the earthly Kingdom they looked for, and so they could not accept that Jesus was who he said he was.
When Jesus says to them (and to us), “Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?” he is pointing to the truth that God is always revealing the Truth, revealing His Will, revealing the way for us, if only we open ourselves to it with sincerity, humility, and love. IN CHRIST, we can know the Will of God, understand our position in the universe (which is infinitesimally small), and therefore appreciate our position in the Heart of the Father (which is disproportionately large). It is here, placing ourselves in our correct position of universal smallness and ontological largeness – here where we know that despite the fact that our existence on this planet is short and limited in scope, we have been called to the magnificence of life within the very Heart of God – that we are truly open to see God at work in our lives and in the world.
So when Jesus says we should be able to judge for ourselves what is right, and what is happening, what he is really inviting us to do is to humble ourselves before the objective Truth that IS, and open ourselves fully to the Spirit’s creative activity in human life. In prayer and immersion in the Word, we can enter more deeply into a relationship with God, and begin to hear the beating Heart of the Father.
Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including newly ordained Father Rob and seminarian Luke ;-), and two grandchildren. She is a Secular Discalced Carmelite and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 25 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE. Currently, she serves the Church as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio, by publishing and speaking, and by collaborating with the diocesan Office of Catechesis, various parishes, and other ministries to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is https://www.kathryntherese.com/.