Jesus writing on the ground

Today’s Gospel is taken from the account of John about A Woman Caught in Adultery. We have a day of recollection together with the Alfano Fraternity (the name of my house) brothers in MAPAC. During our sharing, I pointed out Jesus writing on the ground. What was he writing?

The answer: It doesn’t matter.

The Gospel reminded me of a wounded man hiding inside a Japanese temple.

One day, a wounded man entered inside a temple to hide. Minutes later, two policemen saw an old man at the gate and asked whether he had seen a wounded man.

“Relax, let’s drink a cup of tea. This brew is the best in town,” he told them.

Annoyed, they threatened to kill him if they found out that he’s hiding the wounded man, trying to force their way to search inside.

“If I’m going to die, let me drink my tea first,” the gatekeeper said then sipped some tea.

Then the looked at each other and decided to look somewhere else.

I would like to point out some similarities in these two stories:

  • Both Jesus and the old temple keeper handled the issue with equanimity;
  • Both the wounded man and the woman have their own circumstances which weren’t even divulged first. The wounded man might have been a bandit or the woman might have been a widow looking for some financial support from some men;
  • The scribes and Pharisees will use the stoning of the woman to “have some charge to bring ” against Jesus as part of their ploy to dispose him; the pursuers in the temple threatened to kill the old man;
  • Appearing “unconcerned”, Jesus wrote on the ground; the old man sipped some tea.
  • Both were resolved peacefully. The scribes and Pharisees walked away; the pursuers of the bandit went somewhere else.

There are lots of details to reflect in the Gospel like how a male-dominated society at that time creates this system of adultery pinning the blame on women and letting men get away with it. I might be mistaken but I heard this is still present in some cultures up until now. This analysis needs some sociocultural perspective and that’s not my forte.

Like the wounded man who might turn out to be a bandit, so the woman might have been just a victim of circumstances. And for Jesus, there was even no need to dwell on the whys of hows. Jesus said to her, go and “sin no more”. What a way to express unconditional love.

I don’t know how the wounded man hiding in the temple ended. I might be just as beautiful as the sending off of the woman. I imagine the old gatekeeper telling his man to also go and live in a decent way of life.

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What it means to Fast on Ash Wednesday

Disclaimer: There is nothing new here; just an echo of what I have read, heard, and lived as a practicing adult Catholic since 2011.

Today is Ash Wednesday, a day of imposing ashes on our foreheads and a day of fasting.

Let’s focus on fasting.

Fasting is abstaining meals for a day, either limiting to one full meal or two smaller meal. And what is the point of fasting?

Keyword: self-restraint.

When we fast, we abstain from eating and drinking not because we are dieting or for medical purposes; it’s purpose is spiritual.

Even if I use theological terms such as turning away from “sin”, it will still boil down to self-restraint. And since I brought it up, what is “sin”?

To turn away from others and from God is to “sin”. It is a state of discord or disunity. This is why the term devil or diablo literally means the one who disperses or scatters. To be a sinner means to be someone who is isolated from God and from others; to be a sinner is also to become “full” of oneself.

Fasting is not only about eating. We also abstain from harmful or “guilty” pleasures such as speaking ill of others (yes, gossiping is pleasurable), watching a late night television series, or drinking five cups of coffee (yes, I know I’m lame in giving examples so think of your own way of fasting).

When we Catholics fast, we do it as a gesture of desiring unity with God and with others; we desire unity because we love God and we love others as well.

And like Valentine’s day, fasting is about love.

It’s ultimate end is to fulfil the desire of Jesus for us, that we may be one just as he and the Father are one (John 17:11).