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Condemned woman and condemning men
Waited with baited breath
This man’s silence to break,
History to make
And at last it did!

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By Joe Palathunkal

(Women's Day special feature - March 8, 2018)

Our tainted nature’s solitary boast
Wordsworth sang in praise of her
Mother of Jesus Mary immaculate
Men placed her statue inside the church
And she adorned sanctum sanctorum.
Men devoutly touched her feet
Stood in veneration in front of her
Sending their supplications
In piety’s varied wraps.

Came women’s turn
To touch and venerate
The same immaculate Mother
And as they step into the sanctum sanctorum
Virulent ranting rock the church
Pointing to the Pastor men hollered:
“Don’t you know
Women are impure?
They menstruate and defile
The sanctum sanctorum, holy of holies!
Only men have the right to go there
To touch and venerate the immaculate Mother!

Don’t you know
Only men are born pure and spotless?
And God chose Jesus the man
To redeem the sinful world!?”

On the face of invectives hurled at him
And the raised fists
The baffled Pastor stood there
Wondering at the ranting.
Scenes from centuries ago
Flashed in his mind as on silver screen.

Scene ONE:
Accusing fingers
Raised fists holding stones
A woman in the midst of self-righteous men
Ready to be slaughtered
For the sin men had committed.
Death stared at her like a predator
Knew she well that stones will befall her
To take away life within minutes.
Amidst the accusing fingers of men
One man sat there in silence
Squatting on the ground
His finger instead of rising in accusation
Busied itself scribbling something on the sand
Nobody knows what he wrote
Perhaps an epitaph
For all the men with bloated self-righteous egos-
‘Whitewashed sepulchers!’

Condemned woman and condemning men
Waited with baited breath
This man’s silence to break,
History to make
And at last it did!
Looking at the men
With stones in their fists
Said he with a piercing calm:
“Let the First Stone
Fall on her
From among you
Who has not sinned.”

Lifted he the burden of sin
From the woman
And placed it on man;
A counter-culture he wrote
On the muddled mind of man
To usher in a new vision
To see the woman!
At the well
When the Samaritan woman spoke,
In the rich man’s house
When the woman washed his feet,
He saw her
With a sublime vision
While men viewed her
With muddled mind saddled with
Self-righteous religion – perennial court
To try and condemn the woman!

But hearing his words
That did not condemn
Behind their backs
Went down the raised hands
Loosened the tightened fists
Stones dropped to the ground
One by one
The fig leaf of self-righteousness fallen
They went away in their ugly nakedness!
“Sin no more,
Your sins are forgiven, go in peace!”
With these words
Ringing in her heart and mind
The woman went away
To make her life
A sanctum sanctorum!

Scene TWO:
A Way of the Cross
Feminine hands reach out with handkerchief
To touch and wipe the face
Bruised by men.
A lasting impression of the Saviour’s face
In the heart, on the cloth
A message loud and clear:
Love’s lasting imprints come
Only when feminine palms reach
To a bruised world.
Only Veronica knows
The burden of the Cross
And the pain of bruises
Men cause to humanity.
Judas betrayed him when
30 silver coins sparkled
Before his eyes.
Peter denied him
In the thick of darkness
When woman probed him
With penetrating eyes.
And Pilate condemned him
Against a woman’s dream.

From Gethsemane to Calvary
Judas, Herod, High Priest, Pilate
Then the Roman soldiers
Men gave him crown of thorns and bitter myrrh.
Place of Skull men chose for him
While woman comfortable swaddling clothes.

Mary by the Cross
Immortal Pieta from the Artist
To know those on the Cross
With the eyes of heart
Woman’s eternal gift
To man’s world of spite and fight!
On the Calvary
On the Cross
While men crucified him
Women stood by him.
Then the Pastor wondered aloud:
Who has the right
To enter the sanctum sanctorum
Women who give life, or
Men who take it away?


(Joe Palathunkal is Associate Editor, Living in Faith)

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