Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on Boo Radley, Tom Robinson and the Woman Caught in Adultery. Where is the man? Is this about forgiveness or correcting an injustice? Where is the true scandal in this story. Listen to this podcast of his reflection for the 5th Sunday of Lent to find out. Please read John 8:1-12. For Audio, “Read More” below. #GreatCatholicPreaching #Catholic #BenU1887 #GreatPreaching #John8 #WomanCaughtinAdultery
For Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 3/17/2013The 5th Sunday of Lent.
Please pause this audio and read John 8.1-12
Railroaded. That is what happened. He was railroaded. Without any evidence. Without any witnesses. Without any due process, he was accused and convicted. I am talking about two characters actually in Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird, Boo Radley and Tom Robinson.
Boo Radley is the young man who clearly has a mental illness or a condition that does not permit him to be in the general public. Yet, he protects the children in the story who live down the street, although they cast him as scary, mean, terrible and to be feared. In the end, it is Boo Radley, the so called scary neighbor who saves the main character named “Scout.”
Tom Robinson, on the other hand, is victim of the horrible injustice of the Jim Crow South in the United States in the story. As a black man, he does everything that the white girl, Mayella Ewell, tells him to do because he would be lynched if he didn’t. That even included going into her home to do work. Then, when he goes into her home, she tries to seduce him, gets caught by her white father, and it is Tom Robinson who is accused of rape, tried and convicted.
In all both of these cases, there is a systemic injustice that is perpetuated. In the first case, it is the children assuming that Boo Radley will harm them because of their prejudice against the mentally ill. They even concoct stories and situations about Boo Radley they all readily believe without any evidence. In the second case, it is the Jim Crow system that hides the shame of a white woman’s sexual attraction toward a black man with his death. She wants what is socially unacceptable, so the object of her attraction must die.
With precision of language and a slow flowing Southern style, Harper Lee, draws us into the situations only to be stung and struck by the injustices. Harper Lee’s person of character, the lawyer Atticus Finch, often just watches as the ugliness of the injustice speaks for itself.
In the Gospel lesson for this Fifth Sunday of Lent, we find the Scribes bringing only the woman who was “caught in the act” of adultery to Jesus. The Law of Moses requires two witnesses. There are none. The Law of Moses requires and even explicitly says, “if a MAN is caught in adultery.” There is no male, but only the object of HIS desire, the woman who is brought. The Midrash of the Law of Moses says only that the MAN should be stoned. The women were commonly hanged. Yet, only the WOMAN is brought to be punished with the man’s punishment.
For anyone who knew, did Jesus really need to pay any heed to any of this? Didn’t the injustice of the people who were supposed to tell us what the Law of Moses said stand on its own without any commentary from Jesus? Yet, like Boo Radley, even worse, Tom Robinson, the woman was there before Jesus accused, convicted and asked to be sentenced without any evidence, no corroboration, but solely on the authority of the standing in the community of the accusers.
Once again, with wisdom and aplomb, Jesus goes to the heart of the issue, like we read from the Prodigal Son last week. We have the Scribes who are the ones who were breaking the Law of Moses accusing someone else of breaking the Law of Moses to try to get another to deny the Law of Moses. Rather than playing the Scribes’ little game, he turns and points out the obvious. There is no one who is without sin in this entire episode, except for Jesus alone.
Being religious, being righteous, being holy and being good is not about knowing the rules and using them to your benefit. True religion, true righteousness, true holiness and true goodness is knowing the law to convict the self. True religion, true righteousness, true holiness and true goodness is knowing the law to free the oppressed, the unjustly accused. Atticus Finch used the law and tried to use them to free Tom Robinson and he used the moral code of the South to free Boo Radley. Jesus knew the Law of Moses and set free a woman condemned to die, chasing her accusers away with their own accusation.
Where in your life do you know the laws or the codes where you can correct injustice? Where can you right a wrong? Where can you set the captive free? Wherever it is, you must do it. You must. If not you, then who? God calls all of us to be Christ in the midst of injustice and we must set the camptives free. There are many ways and whatever way there is this week for you to do that, you must. Amen? Amen.
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