A Daniel Come To Judgement

There have been speculations about what Jesus wrote in the sand while the crowd awaited his response to the woman accused of adultery. Was it a list of the sins of the elders? Whatever. The time he took also cooled down the charged atmosphere, and created an air of anticipation – making it possible for the response that could be heard and understood by all. Similar pauses are used by orators before making an important point. To the silent and curious gathering Jesus quietly replies, “ Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her”. The silence must have been palpable. To people expecting a straight forward rebuttal or agreement, this would be perplexing. This oblique parry and thrust were not expected. What could they say? How could they hide their own hypocrisy? In shame they withdraw, led by their elders.

That is the first moral of the story. But, in it there is an allusion to a case in the Old Testament. Remembering how the Old Testament foreshadows things that are more fully revealed in the New Testament, let’s stretch the string to the story in the Book of Daniel, where elders (Judges), accuse and sentence the beautiful Susanna to be stoned. The Judges were the custodians and interpreters of the Lord’s covenant. Yet blinded by lust they seek the death of one of their own daughters. What may have started as a benign diversion, soon took over and clouded rational thinking. From the admiration of a beautiful woman their thoughts drift to covetousness, and deeper to lust and adultery. Then lying and bearing false witness seemed natural. Eventually, they scheme to kill an innocent person. The elders, misused their authority as judges; till they themselves became the judged.

From the nervous isolated woman Jesus adds a further lesson. He places himself, not as a judge but along with those sinners who did not condemn her. Justice had been done. But, Jesus always has more. He goes on to tell her, “Go your way, and from now on do not sin again”. Jesus offers unctions not only for the sins committed, but also reassures her that she can be released from from the burden of guilt, if she listens to his word. Holistic curing. 

The Grain of Wheat


“ The hour has come

For the Son of Man to be glorified.

Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies,

It remains just a single grain; 

But if it dies,It bears much fruit.” John12: 20 – 33


Reflecting on the passage, Laurin J Wenig*, says, “The grain of wheat must sacrifice its existence as a seed if it is to become a new shaft of wheat, a new form of life. God calls us again and again to sacrifice, to die to ourselves, in order to come alive to others, to produce much fruit.”

The season of lent is a period for dying into ourselves, to break with the status quo, taking chances to lay bare our weaknesses to be transformed by grace. Unless we undergo change we cannot fully enter the dawn at Easter. 

Like the Son we must divest ourselves of all earthly attachments. On Calvary they stripped Him of human vestiture; mocked Him to deprive Him of dignity; Crucified Him and drained all His blood. Then, He who took no home or bed for rest, was laid in a stranger’s tomb. He entered the final darkness of earthly death. He surrendered Himself with complete helplessness: one cannot imagine the physical pain and abandonment that Jesus suffered. When done, He said “It is finished”. 

All this for what? To be a mockery to the gentiles and a stumbling block to those He came to “save”. Why Lord, was it necessary to undergo this humiliation and suffering? Was it for me? But, I am not worthy that you should come down to me and enter under my roof – a mere spec of dust in the vast expanse of an ever expanding universe. Yet you love me enough to suffer such torment for me. You wish only a humble and contrite heart in return. In your ultimate act of sacrifice and obedience you joyfully accepted the “Cup”, The Father had set before you. Lord, can I not do as much and share in my cup your own extreme sacrifice – fulfilling my Baptismal charism, and acceptance by The Father, as your brother.

*  “Forty Days of Grace, Lenten Prayers and reflections”, Lauren J Wenig, Twenty-Third Publications.

The Feast at Cana: A Visualisation

 

Setting: A feast to celebrate the wedding of a couple in the small hamlet somewhere on the dusty road to Jerusalem.

Dramatic Personae: Jesus, Mary, The Bride and Groom, Jesus’ Disciples, Guests, Servants, Feast’s Steward.

Action:

Chorus:  “ Cana, blessed are you for ever! Shifting sands can’t obliterate your presence from history. Never will you be forgotten. Blessed are you for hosting the saviour of the world. In your humble settings he gave the world new wine. Drink to strengthen and fortify humanity on the way to the heavenly Jerusalem.” 

(Jesus is seated at a table at the centre of the stage in animated discussion with the disciples.)

Enter Mary (Left wing): “Son. The wine is running out!”

Jesus, distracted from his conversation with the disciples, has a twinkle in his eye:

“Woman. What has that got to do with you, or, me? My time has not yet come.”

Mary (unperturbed, turns to a servant): “Do whatever he says”. 

Jesus smiles, shrugs, and says to a servant:

“Fill those stone jars for ablutions with fresh water to the brim”.

“Now draw some and take it to the steward for tasting.”

The Steward, sips the new wine drawn from the stone jars. Slightly inebriated:  “ That’s good! Bridegroom, people serve the good wine first. And, when the men have drunk well, then they bring out the cheeper stuff. But, you, you’ve kept the good wine for the last”.

Merriment continues.  

Chorus: “What will these humans satisfy? Not transient joys, nor fruits from the burden of bitter hearts. They were blind;  hardness was in their hearts. A new wine has been given to them. New waters from Meribah, now wine to quench the persistent thirst. It invigorates and refreshes the traveller in the journey through the wilderness of life. He said that he would give living waters; he gave more. He gave us both food and drink for viaticum.    

 

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We Are Thus or Thus

Grace the golden orb 

Beams into primeval flame, 

That shoots

Coded desires

To the rounded mask

(Teeming with ideas 

High aspirations 

And multitudes of emotions).

 

The darts, selectively coupling

with fraternal correlatives, 

Slip to the darker side. 

At measured pace

The orb rotates

Capturing to itself a myriad marriages. 

At appointed point

There’s a stop and stillness; 

Obverse stands nakedly, 

In bright rays 

Illuminated,

A meshwork 

of Cause and Affects. 

 

Transformed by appetites

For gold, frankincense and myrrh,

The orb dull-drifts to recesses of darkness;

But is saved by the unions transcendental

That counter pull to warmth of the primordial Source-

Directed  by its own discernments, 

Attractions

Selections

Volitions, 

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Peter’s Principle

Drippingly

Awashed 

in glittering ripples

I wade deeper by paces

Unmindfully,

As the clouds grow darker.

Below the surface 

Jocund schools of fish

And denizens of the deep

Approach,

Curiosity sweeping aside inhibitions

While

Darting between swaying weeds 

And shelter of rockery.

The waters get deeper and darker,

Darker still the sunless wells,

Threatening 

Compelling curiosity;

The weeds too seem changed,

Stronger 

They menacingly

Wave intruders away.

Gasping,

I break the troubled waters,

As darkness covers the sky.

In Desperation

I cry,

“Help me Lord, I sink!”

Helped by his firm,gentle grip,

I surface;

The clouds drift away,

The sea’s calm and peaceful again.

Floating Water Hyacinths

Splashed in noon-time glitter,

Opaque waters run deep.

Rocked on current’s crest

Coifed 

in purple,

Reclining 

on green leaves,

Sweet hyacinth,

You gently pass on, 

Indifferent

To the host’s restlessness

Or, inclement weather.

On the bank, 

An ageing bark

Stands tall,

Mocking your rootlessness;

Himself anchored,

His heavy foliage 

Covering 

Brown scars,

Brooding reminders,

Foreboding a season of smoke 

and red hot furnaces.

You?

No dark thoughts

Of inevitability.

You just bask in the moment’s

Tranquility,

Absorbed

With constant blue above you.

You shrug and pass along

Past green glades,

Even stony shores,

Untouched.

Never a thought

Of pitched forks, confluences,

Or,

Open mouthed eternity.

Blessed in your own rootlessness. 

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Jubilee?

Reclined in a deck chair

letting an evening breeze, touch,

sooth and refresh

the tired brain and assorted aches and pains

 

the Opera House’s sails majestically 

carry an argosy 

of culture trinkets and symphonies  

toward the harbour bridge

where rainbows 

cascade

into a sullen sea

children laugh and clap

at each sulphuric spark

that mushrooms and pops 

 in a sparkling display

 

tired

this brain wanders off 

the celebration

settling on 

the mute twinkle 

above the vanishing horizon

a constant sentinel at its post

 

What charts and instruments

weighed

measured mass

circumference

distance and composition?

what lightyears were travelled 

to tease

and confound intellects?

 

was a notional starting point 

vacated

by this travelling glow-piece

(product of a disintegration) 

millions of light years ago

presumably 

in another galaxy?

 

all will be answered

and the world will accept  

till

fresh intellect and instruments

prove void

the labour and hypothesis.