God Writes Twice
There is an astonishing parallel between this Sunday’s Gospel and the giving of the Ten Commandments. After Israel’s liberation from slavery Moses met God on Mount Sinai. Then he descended and proclaimed to Israel the terms of God’s covenant which they accepted.
When God finished speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the covenant, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God. Ex 31:18
Moses returned to the mountain to be with God but when he returned forty days later he found Israel dancing around a golden calf proclaiming it as their God of liberation. In furious rage Moses throws the stone tablets of the Law, breaking them at the foot of the mountain. The Levites then kill three thousand idolatrous Israelites and the next day Moses returns to the mountain to intercede with God. Then God reveals his Glory which is so great Moses can only see God’s back as he passes by. God then commands him to write a second set of tablets.
When the pharisees bring the woman caught in the very act of adultery they say “Moses, in the law commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say” Jesus responds by bending down and writing on the ground with his finger. As they keep questioning him he says “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then he bends down and continues writing on the ground with his finger.
As with Moses on the mountain it is what occurs between Jesus’ two writings that reveals God’s glory. God is not glorified in the stoning of sinners but in their repentance. The Glory of the law is that it shows us right action. The scriptures are composed of both Divine Word and human word. The penalties, curses and punishment of the scriptures are human words that underline how important the Divine Words are. Jesus does not hold us in our sin.
This God of second chances inspires the discernment of our vocation. Through prayer we meet the same God who revealed his back to Moses, who made his face radiant and able to write a second set of tablets for the people of God. Through prayer we drop the stones we have gathered to hurl against ourselves for our infidelities. And in prayer we are liberated by joy to help others in their Exodus of alienation from God, others and self.
When we discern and pray to this God of mercy and justice we gain the wisdom needed to defer violent responses to moral failure.
By Mark Blom, OMI – Vocation Director of OMI Lacombe Canada Province
Feel free to contact Fr. Mark for advice about discernment and vocation direction. He can meet with you by phone to conduct a short vocation assessment to help you find your way. Contact him at email@example.com to arrange for an appointment