Lately, the newspapers had been plagued by commentaries from students to showbiz personalities and even political aspirants about the statement uttered by boxing icon and political candidate Manny Pacquiao on homosexuals as worse than animals. His courageous statement drew ire from the LGBT community. The Ladlad partylist aired their sentiments by calling the public to withdraw their support for him.
I noticed that people were reacting differently, from name calling to despisement to judgment. We love to judge. It is our second nature. But the problem is not that we judge out rightly, rather we judge vaguely.
The story of the woman caught in adultery in John 8 comes to my mind. In this compelling gospel story, the Pharisees full of self-righteousness brought the woman caught in adultery into the public square of the temple where Jesus was teaching and was made to stand in full view of everybody (I could just imagine how she was dragged and pulled in shame.)She was accused of being caught in adultery! She is to be stoned to death as the law of Moses prescribed. Jesus, unfussed, bent down and started writing on the ground with his finger. The Pharisees kept on prodding Jesus. So Jesus replied “if there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” One by one the Pharisees left.
The heart of the story was at the end when Jesus said “woman, has no one condemned you? Neither do I condemn you, go, and don’t sin any more.” If we look intently into our heart, we will see ourselves fitting in the shoes of the Pharisees. The irony is that we also see all those fingers pointing at us, ready to stone us to death. In other words, as many as we see fingers pointing at us, as many times we point to others as well, ready to stone them to death. We all have sinned. We accused others. We have been accused. We have been wronged. We have wronged others. And the vicious cycle goes on and on. It creates nothing but only wounded persons. But, if we humbly surrender our heart to the Lord we would hear Jesus telling us “has no one condemned you? Neither will I condemn you, go and don’t sin any more.”
Proving who is right and who is not, who is sinful and righteous, does nothing to help the person to walk in the light of Christ. We have to understand that there is no line that separates the righteous from the wicked. Each one of us is equally sinful and equally good for we all are made according to the image and likeness of God. The sun shines on both the good and the wicked. Our struggle to respond to the call to holiness and wholeness is a communal effort. Our collective effort to uproot a secularized mentality must stem from within. Our battle is not amongst us but the evil that prowls around.
Instead of subjecting one another to a demeaning behavior, let us rise above these arguments and address our supplications to God who sees, hears and knows the misery of his children. The presence of evil cannot be fought by human effort alone, it must be accompanied by authentic prayer, fasting and penance. This is what the season of lent is teaching us to look within ourselves: to repent and be converted; to die from the old self and put on the new self with Christ; to leave the darkness of our sins and walk in the light of Christ; to be freed from the slavery of the flesh to be a free child of God. May we come to realize that we are the body of Christ. We are many and different yet each one belongs to the body of Christ, we are as St Paul says “a single unit.” If one part of the body is erring, the whole body is affected. If a part of the body is in pain, all parts are hurt with it.
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