Sunday 13 December 2020

Third Sunday of Advent - Year B

Word for today
The Gospel of John 1:6-8.19-28

Debriefing

The emissaries of the pharisees are seeking information, they are asking for details and explanations. The mind wants information, clarifications, news. The mind has to write a report to itself and must come up with reassurances and  explanations. Nothing is clearer than reality, nothing is clearer or clarifies better, but we are no longer capable of observing or understanding.  The mind sees nothing and accepts nothing except for what it is used to seeing and understanding.
There is an unexpected gift in these lines: the steps necessary for our mental system, which we consider logical and autonomous, are revealed here. In reality there is absolutely nothing that is logical or autonomous about our mental system because it prevents us from growing and of knowing.
The mentality, the mind, the world with its own ideas and convictions are constructed  in the following phases.
The internal framework, the project design, the psychic foundation are absorbed from family and social programming. The outer covering is the result of the informatics system furnished by culture, the school,  friendships. The cement is furnished by the mental methodology of choosing valid from invalid information regardless of reality because of fear of betraying others' expectations in our different existential, family, work, emotional spheres.  The thinking plans and personal mentality which the mind stratifies is determined by vanity which is expressed socially and emotionally by extenuating competitions and continual comparisons.
The indispensable fuel for the whole system is  provided by questions. Questions asked by the mind are never posed to understand the reality but to make sense of a reality that it does not accept. The mind does not accept reality, it can only struggle in an ocean of questions trying desperately not to sink, seeking a reference point, a logical landmark, a known benchmark to make sense of it all. Questions about everything and everyone are the sign of the mind's arrogance over the spirit.  This whole mental structure crystallizes with time due to the relentless thrust of self judgment and guilty feelings.
Now let us listen to the questions that the emissaries of the pharisees pose and follow their methodological tracks as they are the immediately evident exemplification of the mind's violent process against every perceptive and spiritual vision.
Who are you? It is the mind's initial question to deal with any reality. It is the question that destroys at the very onset the possibility for any reality to exist and to have a weight and substance. Asking who you are is absolutely stupid and illogical and does not attain any form of real knowledge.
The Baptist is there, facing those minds, he is there with his strength and with his reality, with his indisputable personal realty. Their question enshrouds a simple but powerful prejudice: for us, for our minds and our mentality, which does not know you and did not contemplate you, you are no one, you do not exist, the weight and the value of your actions, even if visible, do not exist. It is not a question to clarify, but to disarm, to remove all personal authority.
Even if our mind recognized the most shining truth that has come out of anyone's mouth, if it points to an unexpected or unknown change, the mind would in any case respond with a lashing "Who are you?" It is a question provoked by anger, a question dictated by suspicion. It is the kind of a question that is never made when one is at peace, when one loves, when  one is feeling serene internally. And there is no possible answer that can open a crack in the vision and acceptance of reality for what it really is.
Who are you then? Now the issue needs to be examined.  Other people are things to be examined for the mind, not  persons to understand, to accept as they are. The mind never, ever completely accepts any of the persons that it meets along the way. Our mentality is based on a descriptive, continuous, incessant examination. An examination that tends  to create only uneasiness or embarrassment, to destabilize, to empty.
Are you Elijah? Now it  is time for comparisons. It is time for no-win competitions. Let's begin with a direct comparison with a precise person, the greatest of the prophets, the most powerful voice in the bible, in the face of whom the sands in the desert shift and the mountains tremble. The fierce comparison, the competition, the waiting game, the devastating conflict of expectations come into play. It is an associative, extreme, illogical comparison made to belittle, to provoke, to humiliate, to squash. If a child draws a lovely picture, everyday mentality says: Who do you think you are, Michelangelo? If a young person has an enthusiastic dream of solidarity for himself/herself and the world, everyday mentality will vanquish the dream by saying: Who do you think you are, another Mother Teresa? And if he or she wants to be a musician, they will say: "Who do you think you are, Mozart?
Are you a prophet? The comparison continues but the music has changed, now it is ruthless. The answers do not arrive or rather, they do arrive, but the mind does not accept them, does not recognize them. Now the comparison becomes general including everything and against everything, a horizon  where it is impossible to make out the smallest crack in healthy realism.
Who then can serenely admit to being a prophet in this overheated climate, the one everyone has been waiting for without falling into angry, violent hands? This is the question that creates expendable, perverse space so that every possible response is immediately attacked by the most severe denial and confutation.
When the human mind asks questions it is never out of love of truth but out of anger with something it cannot digest and does not know and thus does not accept. Questions of the mind, no matter how enveloped with logic are comparable only with intestinal discharges and they are never a useful digestive process of reality.
Who are you? So we can give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say for yourself? Now the question is covered with an  armour of impossible heaviness. And what could be better than vesting  everything with a law, a morality with an entrusted task, a duty that cannot be disregarded? Being aware that it is impotent and not at all attractive in itself, the mind hides behind the law, duty, principles, constitutions, armies. How much evil has been done and continues to be done in the name of the law, of an entrusted task? How many men have been killed and tortured in the name of obeying orders, in the name of an entrusted task, in the name of a presumed truth?
The mind is quick to hide behind the finger of power, behind moral obedience to a mission which cannot fail. Nothing is better than a hierarchy, a power, an institution, traditions, weapons, integrity to hide its stupidity behind. An example could be that all of the world's children like learning, are eager to know and are limpidly wide open to knowing; at the same time children do not like going to school. But no mind sees this reality, no one asks why and no one asks what  can be done about it. When the growing phenomenon of children's dislike for school becomes apparent the only answer is to hide behind a scholastic program, a mission to be accomplished, a cultural habit, a salary to assure, but no real change is calculated, the situation is not checked out and, even worse, no opportunities are anticipated.
The transition is rapid, almost imperceptible; when there is a change in plans, the mind is accomplished, practiced, trained.
Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, not Elijah, not a prophet? The conclusion is just as ponderous as it is acute and  violent. Not accepting, it portends that the only possibility is  the psychic task of divesting reality of authority. And not accepting does not regard only the person in him/herself but  the works, the actions of that person. The victory of the mind is to criticize always everything and everyone and it is violently, perfectly, and absolutely faithful to itself in this regard: it criticizes actions always, it criticizes every option, every choice, every plan. The mind which does not act and does nothing cannot but hate those who as best they can, with effort and lovingly, do and act.
Human mentality is built on criticism, not on the search for opportunities.
John the Baptist does not have the emissaries of the pharisees before him but the mentality of history and of humanity, a mentality that is  hostile to change, adverse to new possibilities, duly and bitterly disapproving of any reality. John the Baptist answered them by looking around, anticipating other questions, he offers a way, the absolute  undeniable  truth that the person he is announcing is I am, the Eternal One, who is present and alive before their very eyes. John responds throwing open horizons and erasing questions coming from minds and hearts that do not want to understand or to know.  The Baptist responds to the arrogance of the questions of the mind by bowing down humbly at the foot of He who you do not recognize. The Baptist prostrates himself and caresses the straps of the sandal of the All powerful Lord, who, radiant and luminous, humbly entered the history of mankind taking His first steps in the sweet waters of the Jordan River. A river, a waterway is the first path trodden by Jesus on earth. Jesus walks barefoot in the water towards man, His son, His love. The Bapist bows down and prostrates himself to this Love and this is his answer to He who would never make himself known or recognized by mankind's presumptuous, blind mind and mentality.