Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wednesday of Holy Week

Today at my parish we will be doing the Stations of the Cross from The Women of the Passion, A Journey to the Cross, something I wrote several years ago for a women's retreat. As we journey toward Easter, let us walk with these women.

Today, we meet The Woman Taken in Adultery.



V: Our hearts feel every blow of that hammer.

R: Your wounds are of our making.


As I watch them strip him and pull him down onto the cross, I long to scream, “Stop this madness! This is an innocent man! A good man!”

I know. He saved my life.

I was a maid in the household of an important merchant in Jerusalem, and young and foolish. I had been betrothed since I was a child to a man I had never seen. But the merchant’s son convinced me he loved me, and I allowed him to come to my bed. His mother found us. She called me an adulteress, and locked me in my room. I was terrified. Although the Law clearly states that both the man and woman are to be put to death, my lover is important in the community. I knew nothing would happen to him. But the Law says a betrothed virgin is to be stoned to death.

At daybreak they dragged me to the Temple. There was a man sitting there, surrounded by people. The Temple officials threw me to the ground in front of him. I knew I already was a dead woman. They said, “Rabbi, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. The Law says we should stone her. Tell us, what do you say?”

I was confused. Who was this man? Why where they asking him? What were they up to? The man ignored them, drawing with his finger in the dust near my face. But they kept at him, and he kept ignoring them. I finally calmed down enough to focus on what he was doing. There in the dust he had written the unspeakable name of God. What did this mean?

But the Temple officials persisted until he looked up and said quietly, “Let the one among you who has not sinned be the first to throw a stone.”

Then, bending down, he drew some more in the dust, smiling sideways at me. One by one, those who had accused me silently slipped away, until he and I were alone.

“Where have they gone?” he asked me. I said nothing, shaking my head in bewilderment.
“Tell me, has no one condemned you?” he then asked.

“No one, sir,” I said softly.

“And neither do l,” he said. “Go now, and sin no more.”

And he helped me to my feet, smiled at me, turned me toward the door and gave me a gentle push.

“Go,” he said with a smile.

And I did. I went and got my belongings, and set out to find the company of Jesus. He had given me back my life. I would now give it to him.

And now these fools are going to kill him! I hear a terrible groan from his mother and look up. Oh, dear God! They are not tying him to the cross, they are nailing him to it! My heart feels every blow of that hammer. As they jerk his feet together and begin driving the nails through that precious skin, his body moves convulsively upward. And I fall, driven to the ground by grief.

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