Friday, March 13, 2015

Life on the Edge

One of the more interesting things about Jn 8:1-11, is the fact that the vox populi ... conveniently armed as it was with stones ... didn't turn its blood-thirsty targetings away from the adulteress and begin to assail the ever-annoying Christ. It's not like the public was absent such hair-trigger tendencies (cf. Jn 8:59; Jn 10:31).   But I suspect this prospect would have terrified the fingered (and conspicuously solitary) woman even more.  One false “companion” had left her to hang by herself, earlier.  To have a male Champion face the prospect of being cut down before her eyes, would have proved utterly devastating to the sorely wounded psyche.   Our Lord surely would never have countenanced such additional trauma, and it simply did not happen.  The woman’s adversaries abandoned the field, their raging passions not satiated yet fully silenced, themselves being shamed by God’s light cast on the soul (and maybe even some odd sand-doodlings, revealing much).

The scenes of Jesus deftly side-stepping the dangers to His physical life, again and again, furnish the Gospel account of the “beloved disciple” with a "hold-on-to-your-seat" grittiness and narrative nuance that is almost unparalleled in its companion books (outside the Passion story, of course).  Often we hear of back-room mutterings and political plottings to kill God’s Anointed; intentions, yes, but not specifics. There are a few exceptions.  In Lk 4, the Lord’s fellow Nazarenes at synagogue seize Him, and bring him to a precipice.  He chooses to shrug off and walk through the murderous crowd, untouched and with foot undashed against a stone.   Matthew’s stark revelation of the Herodian holocaust visited upon Bethlehem, and the Holy Family’s heart-breaking (and heart-racing) flight into Egypt, may to many minds approach the intensity of the acute crises detailed in John.  What I especially take away from St. John, however, is the knowledge of the Man, who truly could lay down His life whenever and however He deemed as being fit, and to divine plan.

See, stones could break a man, but were not especially cursed.  In fact, stones with Writings were sheltered safely inside the Holy Ark of the Covenant.  Their writings did not break Christ; on the contrary, He kept them safe and sacred.   Stones were not the plan, nor a headlong fall over a cliff.  No, a tree with a curse would be man's primordial demise; and a cursed tree for hanging was destined to be man's salvation. 

Illustration Jesus and the Sinner Woman  Vasily Polenov.  Oil on canvas, 1886-1887.  Russian Museum, St. Petersburg

No comments:

Post a Comment