Saturday, March 20, 2010

Stones UNthrown

Please allow some personal notes: It's been more than two months since I went into a blogging hiatus. To those two individuals who frequent my blog: my biggest apologies. I just needed to put some aspects of my life in order. And that meant, cutting some non-essentials (blogging included) along the way, albeit temporarily. But now that my life is back to its natural rhythm, I am back. And hopefully, I am here to stay.

And here's the main entry.

Today's the fifth week of the Lenten season. After this week, we'll have the most grace-filled week of them all: the Holy Week. But before that, allow me to wax some (pensive) thoughts about the Gospel of today.

For those who may be familiar with the gospel episode which involves the woman caught in the act of adultery, the title of this entry should come across as somewhat eerily familiar. Yes, today's gospel features her (as the main star) along with the scribes and the Pharisees (who played some bit roles). Of course, we should not forget Jesus. When we speak of the Gospel narratives, we naturally speak of Jesus. After all, the gospel is His biography. Hence, it is implied that in every Gospel narrative, Jesus Christ is the leading man. He's the Superstar—But this is another story altogether.

Now, let's see the story.

It was a fine morning when the scribes and the Pharisees brought the woman to Jesus. The woman was caught red-handed having an adulterous affair. They had made her stand in the middle of a crowd. And then, pronouncing these words, we could immediately sense a brewing conflict:

"Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery… Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?"

St. John, the writer, was sharp to record this important detail: They said this to test him
so that they could have some charge to bring against him.

Jesus did not bite the bait. Initially.

He pretended to be indifferent; perhaps, feigning to avoid a squabble in the making.

But they nagged him. Repeatedly.

This must have terribly piqued him. But with much composure, he was able to deliver this line firmly:

"Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."

After which, he was back again in his business of writing some stuff on the ground.

My scripture professor, ten years ago, poignantly recreated this scene for the class. He made us privy to the hypothesis of theologians that perhaps Jesus was writing the evil deeds the bit players themselves committed. Hence, no one among them had the gall to throw any stones at her.

It's their turn to give Jesus cold shoulder treatment. They responded by leaving the scene one after the other.

When all of them vanished, only Jesus and the distressed woman were left in the scene.

Now, don't miss anything here because this is such a beautiful and moving scene no sensible young person should miss.

Jesus straightened up and said to her "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She replied, "No one, sir."

Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you."
Go, and from now on do not sin any more."

Don't you feel love in the air? I do.

And how I wish I were that woman in the scene. It must have been en electrifying experience how it feels to be personally forgiven by a God who knows nothing but to love.

Let me digress a little. I went for some small talk with a priest-confrere two nights ago. And he shared with me that the God of love only looks at us with love. He loves us terribly that he could not make himself angry at us even when we hurt him when we commit sin. Even in the most evil deed we're making, he only looks at us with one brand of look: a loving stare. St. Paul puts it succinctly: "Our faith may fail, his never wanes- That's who he is, he cannot change!" (2 Timothy 2:13)

And so, the woman who had been adjudged dirty was transformed into her pristine state. She's clean once more. She's a new creature again because the God of love willed her to be so.

The grace of forgiveness given to this woman is also offered to us; absolutely free of charge, no hidden charges at all! Because Christ already offered his life for her our salvation.


A postscript:

Think about this, nothing is known about the man who was with the woman before this scene had taken place.

Did he escape?

If he did, I think that that it's such a big loss on his part because he was not able to encounter Jesus and experience the pristine quality of how God forgives.

How about us?