Monday, March 22, 2021

Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Back in the mid 1980’s, the AIDS crisis began, causing much suffering and pain within the gay community. I remember vividly the horrible response of many people, Christians, Christian leaders, who spoke against the gay community calling AIDS God’s punishment on them for their sinful lives. These individuals were steeped in ignorance and judgement, purporting to preach the gospel of Christ by condemning. This “disease” did not even originate in the gay community.

Knowledge is power, true knowledge that is. Even the Reagan Administration failed to give help to those suffering from AIDS because these men didn’t matter. There is within humanity a deep need to project onto an individual or group of people a reason for a tragedy or some horrible reality. It’s called “scapegoating” and this need to put the blame on someone else or a whole group of people to justify our own position is found in every culture. The Jewish people, gays, African Americans, Asian Americans, Muslims, the family member who doesn’t fit in, the “different” classmate, the list goes on.

In the gospel, the men holding stones of weapons created a scapegoat in the woman caught in adultery. They caught her in the act, became outraged, placed all their outrage on her in condemnation, all to justify their own deep sinfulness. Why focus your own sins when you can put the focus on another human being, deflecting blame or responsibility. Jesus responds NOT by condemning these men’s attitude but by writing in the dust on the ground. Twice, twice, Jesus bends down in humility, writing in the dust.

Humility. The words, “Those who haven’t sinned cast the first stone,” have been etched in all our memories. These words pierce hardened hearts and arrogant minds. What was Jesus writing in the dirt as the men began to absorb those words that compelled them to drop their stones?

More importantly, who do I/you scapegoat.... and WHY????

Fr. Frank