A few months back, on Divine Mercy Sunday, I was able to speak with a wonderful priest. We had never met before, but we began to talk about various women in scripture who served Christ in some way. Veronica- a woman who had such compassion toward Jesus, when He was in need of care the moment she saw Him. The wailing women- the women who mourned the Passion of Christ, and recognized the truth of love that goes to the very end. Mary- a woman of great virtue, love, sacrifice, and femininity- our Mother. But as we continued to discuss he mentioned a woman with no name who embodied receiving the mercy of God- the woman caught in adultery. Normally, a part of scripture that is noted for teaching us not to cast the first stone, he took a slightly different approach. This woman, caught in a grave sin, could have been condemned for these actions. She was left abandoned, to be arbitrated by the self-righteous, but Christ came and spoke some truth. As the men dropped their stones, she could have run, left her home for fear of being unwanted, but she stayed. The priest just repeated, “Be that girl. The girl that stays.”
It stuck with me.
A few weeks later a friend of mine, who didn’t know about the previous conversation, showed me this image of the woman caught in adultery. She looked tired and afraid, but so beautiful. Her pain struck me. No matter what struggles she bared, she seemed so familiar.
As I really looked at the image, I saw a woman who carried shame, a woman who had been burdened by her sin, who felt outcast from her people; I saw a woman who struggled with seeing her own dignity, her innate worth, a woman like many women… a woman like myself. But I also saw a woman who was not defined by the ways in which she had fallen, rather given purpose by the way her Lord loves her, and shows sincere mercy.
One of the most beautiful things about this image, is that as she stands in humiliation, Jesus is knelt in front of her, drawing the line which invites her to see the promises of Christ, and the joy in celebration of new life.
As I further contemplated this, all I could recall was the words of the priest, “Be that girl.” The girl who stays, the one who doesn’t run away in fear. The girl who accepts God’s mercy, who may fall but gets back up. The girl who no longer aches of emptiness, but opens herself up to receive what she is really created for.
I want to be that girl.
The Image "The Woman Taken in Adultery" by William Blake can be found at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Woman_Taken_in_Adultery_but486_1_1_wc_100.jpg