Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Drawing a line in the sand

In John 8, we find the story of Mary Magdalene cornered in the street for the sin of adultery.  Jesus walks up and is confronted.  Condemning her and calling her to be stoned would have gone against what Jesus had taught about forgiveness, and mercy - but not condemning her would go against the Law which called for her to be killed.  Jesus had quite the predicament but he knew exactly what to do.  Without a word, he bend down, drew in the ground for a moment, then proposed a very specific statement to consider - "Those of you without sin should cast the first stone".

As they turned and walked away, Jesus looked at Mary and said "“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”“No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

To start my commentary, what does it mean to condemn?  Google has two ways it defines condemn 1.  To express complete disapproval, particularly in public
2.  Sentence to a particular punishment, especially death.

Jesus did not express complete disapproval, nor he did not sentence Mary to death.  He did however very clearly acknowledge and confront her sin.  Caritas (latin) and Agape (Greek) are two words that express "Love".  Sometimes, the English language just can't capture everything in one word "love" where other languages are able to.  We don't love our parents in the same way we love the person we're dating, or our spouse - at least I hope not...  Both "caritas and agape" are much different than the way we love food, or love sports.  Instead, this love is eternal love - it is loving them to the greatest good which is eternal happiness.  If you "caritas" love someone, you want nothing more for them than the absolute greatest - you're willing to lay down your life for them, while at the same time completely destroy your relationship with them if it means their health, safety and salvation.

I had a student a few years back that wanted to meet with me about something.  She revealed to me that she had been cutting herself and had been harming herself for quite some time.  In our conversation, she asked me not to tell anyone, especially not her parents.  I asked her "Do you trust me?"  and she said yes...  I then followed by explaining how if she trusted me, she could trust me to do the absolute best thing for her.  To bring the story to it's point, I ended up having a conversation with the parents.  She began going through therapy, but all while being very angry at me for sharing with her parents and breaking her trust.  Today, she is alive, and thriving and was able to get the help she needed.  I'm not sure if she'll come back around and be thankful, but regardless - I loved her to the greatest good despite our relationship.  We see this with our children and how we discipline out of love, and correct with love - but to our kids, we're just "mean ol parents who don't let them do anything fun". 

I feel this same approach can be taken with our faith in our Lord.  Jesus isn't about scolding, but I do believe he wants us to see where we're going our own unhealthy directions and come back to Him.  It sometimes seems like society demands every right to do whatever makes us feel good, and we should let everyone else do the same without condemning their behavior.  In fact, if you dare cross the other opinion, you better believe you'll get an earful, with equally condemning tone for standing your ground.  The question becomes, where do we draw our line?  Is what we always believed about this and that true or were we wrong all along and need to make adjustments to what we know and understand? 

How are we as Christians reaching out to others out with "Caritas" without being judgmental, or even persecuting others because they have a different understanding?  How are we standing our ground with love and charity?  Do we bully others, or are we getting run over because we just don't want to deal with the conversations?  Be challenged in your belief!  Ask the tough questions and always be open to another answer.  Most importantly, focus on your own relationship with Jesus Christ.  I think the greatest good we can do and practice, is a vocal love for our faith and our belief.  Something about joyful love for our Lord brings about interest in others.  If we are joyful about our relationship with our Lord, and openly express it, others can't help but be interested.  Lets focus on US and OUR relationship with Jesus, and understanding on the teachings of the Church taking advantage of every opportunity to grow in the sacraments then take that love and share it with others. 

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