+Peace and goodness to you this day!
One of my earliest childhood memories is of getting in serious trouble, with both of my parents, over my throwing of a rock at my little brother. Now, I was a really little guy. Plus, I have really lousy aim and so I am pretty sure that I didn’t actually hit my brother. But my Mother had seen me do it. I don’t even think that we were fighting or yelling at each other. I just found a rock about the size of a small apple, and I threw it at him. My parents went ballistic. You would have thought that I just fired a gun as my brother. They both kept saying, you don’t throw rocks at people! They even quoted Scripture to me, “Don’t you remember the story of David and Goliath? David killed Goliath with one rock!” And then I also got that classic parent objection to Red Ryder BB guns, “You could put his eye out!” Even as a little guy, I knew that I had done something terrible. When I would make my first Confession a few years later, I would have to tell the priest that I had thrown a rock at my little brother. It was that big of a deal!
So this story of these Jewish people dragging this woman in front of Jesus, and then wanting to throw stones at her because she had sinned, was always hard for me to understand. They wanted to do what to this woman? They wanted to stone her to death. Ouch! Didn’t their parents teach them that you’re not supposed to throw rocks at people? Maybe parents in Palestine were different from parents in Indiana? But things are not good in our Gospel story today.
This woman is in trouble. And everybody’s got their piles of rocks ready to throw. They are ready to kill this woman. Good, religious people are completely ready to let their rocks fly and take this woman’s life, because she has sinned. What’s more, and what I completely didn’t understand about this story when I was a child, is that the Jewish leaders have set this whole thing up. The Gospel says very specifically that they caught this woman “in the act”. What, were they following her around, waiting to catch her? This is horrible behavior. Doesn’t anybody see the sin in their actions? And then, this woman is not a human being to them, she is a pawn that they are using to get Jesus. You see, as we’re going to hear about next weekend, this poor woman doesn’t interest the Scribes and Pharisees at all. They don’t care anything about her. Obviously, they are willing to let her die to get Jesus. There’s a whole lot of sinning going on that day in the Temple area.
Jesus knows this. He’s got it well-figured out what’s going on here. And He simply tells them, to let those without sin, throw the first stones. And they’re all there. And they’ve got their stones piled up and ready to go. They’ve got their best stone in their hand, and their arm is pulled back and ready to launch. They are ready for some rock-throwing and for some justice. And that’s when Jesus’ words hit home. Wait a minute. Wait a minute! None of us are without sin. Nobody should be throwing any rocks.
Fast forward to 2013! We are smarter than they were. We know, because our parents taught us, that we aren’t supposed to throw rocks! And Lord knows, the greatest sin in our culture and society today is to be judgmental. And maybe we don’t really see ourselves as sinners anymore. So what do we do today? We don’t throw rocks. We throw harsh and horrible words. It’s true. We are so comfortable today as we sit here and hear this story because we know that we’d never throw rocks at anybody. Our parents taught us not to do that! But so many times we, all of us, have no problem what-so-ever clobbering a person’s reputation with our harsh and brutish words. We don’t kill them. But we sure don’t have any problem killing their reputation or image in the community. And just like with the good folks with the rocks, Jesus reminds us today, that if we’re going to go after others with hard words, we’d better make sure that we are sinless ourselves. And finally, Jesus’ words to the woman at the end of the Gospel, are also essential: “Go and sin no more.” We can’t keep sinning. We need to change.
Throwing Rocks can get us into a lot of trouble. But throwing words can cause even more damage. May God help all of us to be better in these last days of Lent.
+May God bless us, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!