The chosen people

April 3, 2022

In Genesis we hear that God did not just create the waters that covered the earth, but took control over them, separating them from the heavens and calling forth the dry land in their midst. In Isaiah, we hear that God continued to rule the waters, holding them back to give freedom to the Chosen People, releasing them to kill their enslavers, and, in Isaiah’s time, directing them into the desert to lead the people back home. Using perhaps the most elementary substance on earth, in a way behind the ability of any person, God is forever “doing something new!” (43:19). The Pharisees cite Moses in defending their plan to stone the women caught in adultery. The law was based on the commandments, presented by Moses to the people on a pair of stone tablets. Stone—hard, dense, and unyielding—anchored their sense of justice. Jesus pointed to a better way. He did so by writing on the ground. Instead of chiseled in stone, rigid and permanent, his words were traced in the dirt, unsubstantial and erasable. The dirt recalls the ashes applied to our foreheads a month ago, a fleeting reminder of our sinfulness, easily washed away. Jesus’ gift of forgiveness washes away her sin. Meanwhile, the dirt, the earth, would eventually reabsorb the stones of the crowd. But stone does not yield easily. The scribes and Pharisees did not soon forget this challenge to their authority. Not only did he sidestep their test, not only did he remind them of their own sinfulness, he showed them up, as evidenced by the fact that every person in the temple area declined to challenge him. Jesus’ radical mix of justice and mercy threatened their world, further inflaming them and convincing them to put him to death.  Amen, (Casey, Most Reverend Robert G. Pastoral Patterns. World Library Publication, 2022)

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