Sunday, March 21, 2010

Looking in a Mirror

The Gospel reading from today was John 7:53-8:11:

The Woman Caught in Adultery

They went each to his own house,but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?" This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more."

To start off his sermon today, the priest told the story about a parish, where people kept telling the priest of that parish that the church was dead. So he decided to send invitations to everyone in the parish, inviting them to a funeral Mass for the church. At the front of the church was a casket. And after the Mass, the priest invited people to walk past the casket and pay their last respects. As everybody looked into the casket, they saw a mirror.

Last year, someone from a blogging community said that I needed to look into a mirror. I presume that the reason she thought I should look in a mirror was because I didn’t see myself the way she saw me. But neither did she see me the way many other people saw me. At around the same time, I was receiving many supportive messages - some from unexpected people - that showed that not everybody shared her perception of me.

So if I looked in a mirror, what would I see? Me, the way she saw me? Or me, the way many other people saw me?

Personally, I’d rather see me the way Christ sees me.

I’d also like to see other people the way Christ sees them.

I didn’t point out to this person the messages of support I had received. Nor did I point out everything that she had done wrong. I’d prefer to concentrate on my own faults than those of other people.

I say I’d prefer to concentrate on my own faults, but that’s not always so easy to do. Other people’s faults are so much easier to find. They’re right there in front of you. But you actually need to look to find your own faults.

Once when I admitted to a friend that I was finding it hard to forgive someone, she said she was actually quite pleased I said that, because she was under the impression I was never critical and always forgiving. I don’t know how she got that impression, because I can be very critical and slow to forgive. Maybe it’s because I try to keep a lot of it inside my head. Although, I seem to be failing even at that lately.

I think very critical thoughts about people sometimes. And I get very annoyed with myself when I do. But I get even more annoyed when I do say something.

I wonder how many of the Pharisees walked away from the woman caught in adultery, imagining how much they would like to stone her.

Actually, the most surprising thing about this story, I find, is that they didn’t throw stones after what Jesus said. Jesus must have written some very powerful stuff in that dirt. Because when you think about it, if somebody is being critical, and you say ‘Let him who is without sin throw the first stone’, most people will just go on saying what they were saying. Only now they’ll add a whole load of reasons as to why they’re justified in their criticisms.

Not to mention the fact that a lot of people seem to think that they are without sin. It’s always other people that have the problem. Have you ever had a conversation with someone about bible passages, and every time you mention the kind of things Christians should be doing, they point out someone else who isn’t doing it? They never seem to be able to apply it to themselves.

I’m doing it now, you know. As I’m writing this, I’m thinking of other people. Not me. It’s the other people that are doing the wrong thing. And wouldn’t it be good if so and so read this? They would really be forced to look at themselves then.

To criticise someone for being critical is to commit the same sin. To judge someone for being judgmental is to be just as guilty.

Another reason why we’re so quick to criticise is it makes us feel better about our own faults. It’s this whole ‘Well, I may be doing this, but that person is doing that.’ Or ‘If I’m a sinner, she’s a bigger one.’ Or ‘I am doing such a better job of following Christ than they are.’

Wrong attitude.

I don’t think I should be looking at a mirror. Not because I have nothing that needs fixing. I have a lot that needs fixing. But because it’s easy to look in a mirror and decide that ‘It’ll do’. I judge myself by my own standards

Instead of looking into a mirror, I need to look at Christ. And by Christ’s standards, I have a lot I need to work on. And compared to Christ, the difference between this sin and that sin and this fault and that fault is negligible.

The truth is we all fall short. It doesn’t matter who is the biggest sinner. What matters is that we are all sinners. And the more time we spend looking at other people’s sins, the less time we have for getting rid of our own.

(Image details: The woman taken in adultery, Rembrandt.)

No comments:

Post a Comment


Bookmark and Share

Blog Patrol