Here’s two stories that need comparison. I know you guys really don’t dig the history thing here, but perhaps this has some real world application today…
Anyway, the Desert Fathers. Back around the 3rd Century AD, a movement began in response to the legalization of Christianity, now no longer illegal under Constantine the Great. A man by the name of Anthony the Great moved himself from Roman society in Alexandria and settled in an old Roman Fort out in the desert, reading the scriptures and living off bread and water. His decision to do so drew other disciples and began the movement known as Desert Monasticism. The men who made up this movement would become known as the Desert Fathers.
The Fathers dedicated themselves to living in small communities, each man having his own cell, though some of the more advanced opted for a life of hermitage. They centered their entires lives around the love of God and the love of people. They would prioritize helping each other through illness and struggle, and break long fasts when guests would come, showing them hospitality. They were constantly in a state of silent prayer, and dedicated their time to reciting the scriptures. Finally all of them opted to withdraw from the empire, believing that a true Christian state could not be found in the mix of religion and politics.
We’ve learned much about the Fathers through compilations of their sayings and through some of their biographies. One story I wanted to focus on was this one, though:
A brother in Scete happened to commit a fault, and the elders assembled and sent for Abbott Moses to join them He, however, did not want to come. The priest sent him a message, saying, “Come, the community of brethren is waiting for you.” So he started off. And taking with him a very old basket full of holes, he filled it with sand and carried it behind him. The elders came out to meet him and said, “What is this, Father?” The abbott replied, “My sins are running out behind me, and I do not see them, yet I come today to judge the sins of another!” Then, hearing this, they said nothing to the brother, but pardoned him.
We don’t know of all the stories involving the Fathers were true, I will admit, but true or not, I’ve never seen a story that emulated Jesus more from that time period (think about the adulterous woman in John 8, the one whom even Jesus refused to judge). The Christian doctrine of forgiveness is one that comes with absolute absurdity, but also great joy when implemented.
Now, can anyone think of someone who recently went before the courts accused of a very, very serious crime who may or may not need forgiveness? Anyone? Anyone?
Yes, that’s what I thought. The title of this post should give you a clue.
We know what she accused of, we know the severity of the crime if she truly is guilty, and we also know (but refuse to acknowledge) that there is no greater candidate for forgiveness than Casey Anthony. Yes, Jesus loves her too, and shame on every Christian who has taken up the position of judgment against her. You all know better than this.
Yes, I know that Jesus has a special place in His kingdom for children, and uses a lot of teachings about children, and says about how it would be greater for someone to have a millstone tied around his neck and be tossed into the sea than to harm a child, but that does NOT mean that they are beyond forgiveness, and we all know it. Still, we perpetuate this ill treatment of people like Casey Anthony. We want to see her dead for what she is accused of (on the grounds of circumstantial evidence, but that’s also a judgment I’m not at liberty to make). We want justice!
And our sins pour out of us like sand through the holes in an old basket…