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GO AND SIN NO MORE
Some weeks ago, when the Gospel reading spoke of the woman caught in adultery, I was intrigued that the priest chose not to direct his homily to the Gospel reading, but rather to the forthcoming changes in the liturgical service. It moved me to write my own version of the Gospel story.
The older I get (I am 65), I recognize, more and more, the perils in judging anyone. And I find that those (so here goes a judgment!) who seem driven to judge are often guilty of the “crime” themselves–an interesting twist that leaves me humbly silent even at times when it seems someone deserves to be judged.
I apologize ahead of time if my version of the Gospel story offends your religious or moral sense, but at least risk letting yourself take in the spirit of this fictionalized version of the Gospel story. See if you can let it speak to you and two things: stop judging and criticizing others, and then go and sin no more!
IT COULD BE, EASILY COULD BE, YOU OR I
They had been following him day and night, waiting for the perfect moment. They had argued for days which woman to choose. They chose Rebecca because she seemed naive compared to the rest. She acted as if she really loved each one of them. She did their bidding passionately seemingly with pleasure, never complaining, never screaming when in pain, never hesitating when there was two or three of them at a time, including their wives. They could not imagine her exposing their secret.
It was a hot afternoon, windy, dust devils skirting about like kids playing tag. There he was sitting in the square, answering questions. They ran to get her, not knowing she was with the chief priest himself. He was angry with their intrusion and cursed at them. He pushed her onto her hands and knees, cruelly finishing his way with her. Then, laughing, he kicked her.“Go with them, you whore.” As they left his house, he shouted after them, “Return my money after they stone her.”
They drug her by her hair. By the time they threw her before him, blood was running down her face, large abrasions covered her knees. She smelled of desert dust and sex. She wanted to cry, but was too frightened.
He stared at them as if he did not know what they were up to. It unnerved them. Finally one of them shouted, “We caught her red handed, Sir, having sex with someone other than her husband.”
He looked at the woman. He reached to wipe the blood from her face. She flinched. He continued reaching for her face and wiped the blood with the sleeve of his shirt. He then broke his silence.
“So you know the law.” He looked down at her once again. “So, get on with it, then.”
He looked around at the crowd. “But wait. We have to decide who gets to throw the first stone. Yes? So who gets to throw the first stone? How about the person here who this woman has not pleasured. Why don’t you, if you are here, throw the first stone. Maybe if her husband is here, he can throw the first stone.”
Then he stood up and approached them one by one, looking each one squarely in the eyes.
“Is it you? Are you the one man here who has not sought pleasure from this woman? Or maybe you? Or maybe you?”
He sat down again and began writing in the sand. “Perhaps you would like me to write in the sand just how many times each of you have sought her pleasure. Ah, and let me do one better. Let me write down how much each of you owe her for all the times you tricked her and refused to pay her?”
When other women came running to the square to see what was the commotion, the holy men began to disperse. They motioned to the women, some of them their wives, to also leave. Soon, besides Jesus, there was only one man remaining.
“So there is no one here to cast a stone?”
“So why do you risk being stoned to death, day after day?”
“Sir, I know nothing of the laws of Moses or the laws of God except what my mother and husband have taught me. My mother told me many years ago that our family was chosen to take care of the holy men of the land. She told me this is how our family would survive through the ages.”
“And your husband? Where is your husband?”
“He is one of them, sir, one of the holy men. My husband also tells me it is my duty to take care of all the holy men in the town. This way our family will win favor with God, and my husband will remain one of the holy ones all of his life, and the temple coffers will provide us with food and shelter.”
“And your children?”
Pain ripped through her dirt-scuffed face. “I have no children, sir. My husband has taken my children away from me.”
There was silence for a long time. Only the wind talked. She continued to stare at the dirt as it twirled and danced in the warm breeze. Finally, she looked up at him. “Sir, I can tell that you are one of them, a holy man, and I want to repay you for saving my life. Let me come to your house and spend the night with you. The least I can do is grace you with pleasure for an evening. I can tell you are different from the other men. I would love to submit to your every desire.”
“I would be blessed indeed to spend the night with you, woman. However, you can repay me by never again sleeping with the likes of these vipers. Go with this man to Arimathea. He is also a holy man, and someday he will provide a place for me as well to rest my head. Go now, woman, and sin no more.”