What was Jesus writing on the ground?
A question that remains in the minds of many Christians around the world from this weekend’s Gospel: What was Jesus writing on the ground?
This well-known gospel from Luke portrays the Pharisees trying to test Jesus. They wish to stone a woman caught in the act of adultery and ask Jesus what he has to say about the matter. Calmly, Jesus bends down and begins writing on the ground. “If there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” He continues to write on the ground. Slowly the crowd departs until only the woman and Jesus remain. “Neither do I condemn you [he says with love]. Go away, and do not sin anymore.” This is a beautiful message that reminds us once again of the endless love and mercy of God.
We can run the risk, however, of remaining caught up in the fact that we were never told what Jesus was writing in the dirt. Some people drive themselves crazy thinking about what could possibly be written – there are scholars who have dedicated their life’s work to narrowing down the possibilities. Still, we will never know. Will we ever just accept that and be able to focus on the real message of this gospel?
Often, we get caught up in the negatives of life, so-much-so that we overlook the positive. We travel to somewhere beautiful to spend time with loved ones, but it took us so long to get there; we treat ourselves with something sweet but regret it later; we cook someone our favourite meal, but it could have turned out better. We are constantly stuck in the act of looking over our shoulders at what might’ve/could’ve been instead of actually witnessing and experiencing what is happening in front of us.
The launch of our new youth group in the parish last month – Kingdom Youth – has been a great blessing. It has been joyful for me to meet many of our families and to start getting to know so many of our young students. We’ve been extremely excited about the number of young people attending Kingdom Youth at this early stage with an incredible 60-80 young people in Years 7–12 joining us each Friday night.
It is easy, though, to become fixated on these numbers as our primary measure of success – or, to use a biblical term, fruit – instead of the growth and experiences of the teenagers in front of us; today’s gospel reading points this out for me. Instead of focusing on the kids who aren’t at youth group or the apparent slight decline in numbers from the week before, I need to focus on the youth who are right in front of me – who are seeking truth, goodness and love in their lives. My dream is that this ministry can offer them these things – God’s truth, goodness and love – until they can see them for themselves in Jesus.
I invite you today to think about something in your life you might not often celebrate because you’re more focused on the potential negatives. Maybe you don’t even realise you’re doing it yet! May the ever-merciful Jesus in today’s gospel reading meet you wherever you’re at and inspire you in ways he hasn’t before.
Please continue to pray for our parish youth and young adult ministry. Kingdom Youth will be back in Term 2 at 6pm on Friday 29th April. Our young adults (18-35) also meet weekly on Wednesdays for social and formative events! Keep up with us via Instagram @kingdom.caloundra Thank you to everyone who has supported us in some way throughout the first quarter of 2022, and please be assured of my prayers too!
Blessings, Felicity Jones
Parish Youth Minister