Writing in Sand

24 March 2007: 5th Sunday of the Lent
John 8, 1-11: The Adulterous Woman

The lesson in the story of the adulterous woman is simple: “No one has the right to condemn anyone even those who have gravely hurt or sinned.” In the story of the adulterous woman in the Gospel, I think it is Jesus who has the right to condemn her, because he has NOT sinned. But Jesus did not. On the other hand, those people who have sinned were the very persons who condemned the woman. Those sinners think that they have the right to kill her.

Therefore, Jesus tells us that God does not condemned sinners. God does not keep his anger — as we have seen also in the Parable of the Prodigal Father last Sunday. What matters to God is the return of the sinner, when the lost has been found.

There is one thing about the story though: Jesus writes on sand when the Pharisees asked him to comment about stoning the woman as Moses prescribed. There are many theories about what Jesus wrote. I will attempt an answer.

There is a story tells about two friends who were walking through the desert. In a specific point of the journey, they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face.

The one who got slapped was hurt, but without anything to say, he wrote in the sand: “Today, my best friend slapped me in the face.”

They kept on walking, until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath. The one who got slapped and hurt started drowning, and the other friend saved him. When he recovered from the fright, he wrote on a stone: “Today, my best friend saved my life.”

The friend who saved and slapped his best friend, asked him, “Why, after I hurt you, you wrote in the sand, and now you write on a stone?”

The other friend, smiling, replied: “When a friend hurts us, we should write it down in the sand, where the winds of forgiveness get in charge of erasing it away, and when something great happens, we should engrave it in the stone, in the memory of the heart, where no wind can erase it.”

We are no different from the Pharisees and scribes who would like to throw a stone to any sinner. It is what we do when we gossip. It is what we do when we are angry. It is what we do when we are hurt. We write the sins on stone but goodness we write on sand.

But Jesus wrote the sin of the adulterous woman on sand. Perhaps, today we evaluate our relationships and actions. And more importantly, begin to engrave the goodness of people on stone and to write the sins of those who hurt us in sand.

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