playing for time

Mar 18, 2024

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Yesterday (Sunday) afternoon I flew back from Melbourne where I have spent the past few days with the Little Sisters of the Poor. The flight was uneventful, peaceful and relaxing. I was reading a Peter May novel (The Black House), and most passengers near me seemed to be returning from quick weekend family and shopping trips across the ditch.

Forty-five minutes before landing the West Coast of the South Island was visible, a stretch from Whataroa to Greymouth, and the sky was mostly clear across the Alps until Porters Pass when cloud covered the Plains before a glimpse of the city for just a few minutes before landing.

In those last minutes I snapped the pic above, east of the Southern Motorway (Hornby perhaps), just before landing. Some readers may recognise the street pattern.

There’s perhaps one hundred houses in the frame and a couple of dozen cars. From above the scene looks pretty still and silent, but my reflective post-retreat mood got me thinking about the joys and hopes, griefs and anxieties of the people living in and visiting those houses and driving in those cars.

Just imagine the few thousand people under those roofs, relaxing and working, visiting, some tense family conversations and even flash-fights, some long-running feuds, the happy gatherings and anxious waits, the good news and the bad, the helpless poverty and the blind wealth, the health struggles… the list is endless.

A slice across the image would pass through perhaps a dozen homes touching every human high and low, every complexity of human existence.

And it’s likely that the people in a good number of houses in my bird’s-eye perspective are experiencing a difficulty which would be helped and even resolved by a heart-hearing of today’s gospel reading with Jesus’ warning about the danger of making judgement about others. “If there is one of you who has not sinned, let them be the first to throw a stone…”

How easily we forget that when we point the finger at others, there are three (of our own) fingers pointing back at ourselves.

I like the way that Jesus is silent for much of the account. The Scribes and Pharisees are putting him to the test: “What have you to say” about this sinner?

Jesus lowers himself, down to ground level, making himself smaller than anyone else in the story, and flicks dust with his fingers, playing for time until the chatter fades, maybe to count to ten letting his anger ease before he responds. Then, finally, he looks up to find he was in good company, just a hurting and humble woman and himself.

“Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus.

Imagine if every person in every house took time to breathe in every situation, playing for time, letting anger subside, then simply and lovingly echoing Jesus to friends and enemies, family and strangers: Jesus doesn’t condemn you and neither do I.

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If you missed my recent post with an update on my Sabbatical Leave, you might like to catch up at this link.

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Take an initiative and initiate a cafe gathering, or join these gatherings:

TODAY Monday 18 March 2024 10.00am (& every Monday). Moku Cafe. Bush Inn Centre, Waimairi Road,  Christchurch. Trish

Wednesday 20 March 2024 10.00am Bellbird Eatery at the Dowse, 45 Laings Road, Lower Hutt. Catherine

Email me to add another: john@fff.org.nz

After your gathering send a sentence or two about the encounter.

 

 

5 Comments

  1. So true, amen! I saw this one day and this reflection reminded me of something I saw that said we have a side view of people’s sin (we see some having more or less than others if depicted as a bar graph) God has a bird’s eye view of sin (there is no height differential and looks the same from a top view, ie we are all sinners).
    Better seen pictorially in: https://images.app.goo.gl/1LzexpvQDnhgmWnUA

    Reply
  2. My Gospel reading in Universalis has Matthew 16:13-19 today, (You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church) and not your one?

    Reply
    • Not sure why that is Chris. I’ve just double checked and I have Mark 8:1-11. John

      Reply
      • Fr John
        ”Knock on any front door and there is a story behind it”
        Fred

        Reply
  3. Thank you Father and thank you Pravina. The bird’s eye view is great. If we all take time to breathe we have more hope of staying connected to each other and to God.

    Reply

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