Read the text below, preferably aloud. As you hear the word, “listen with the ear of your heart” for a word or short phrase that God has for you this day.
The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”
Jesus appears to disregard — to not listen — to what the scribes and Pharisees are saying, as he is bent down and writing on the gound. But he IS listening, not so much to the content of their words, as to the deeper meaning. Jesus “hears” the crowd as they project their own shadow sides, their own darkness, onto this woman; as their angry and self-righteous words swirl above his head, Jesus “hears” the manipulative intent of this crowd; he “hears” them dehumanize and use this woman as a pawn; and he also “hears” this crowd dehumanize themselves, as they blindly distance themselves from their own inner truth and desperate need for healing — and from the only Source, Jesus, who can provide that healing.
As I prayed with this text, I was struck by an experience of synchronicity — also known as a “God-incidence”. In my life these days, there is much that is swirling all around me and within me, and as I struggle with this I’ve wondered sometimes: “Where is Jesus?” I think now, that maybe all along, Jesus was bent down to the ground of my being, writing on the ground, and “hearing” all that I’ve been experiencing. I think Jesus was waiting for the right time to stand up and say exactly what I needed to hear, at this exact time — because perhaps it’s only at this exact time that I could possibly hear it anyway. As with the woman in this text, his words to me uphold my dignity and humanity; his words to me are healing, gentle, and life-giving.
This kind of prayer teaches us to “listen with the ear of [our] heart” for a word from God.
Have you “heard” any God-incidences in your life lately? Has Jesus been bent down to the ground of your being, waiting with you for that time, in which to give you a word that is uniquely only for you?
©Woman Caught in Adultery, Aiden Hart with contributions by Donald Jackson and Sally Mae Joseph, 2003 The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, © 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.