“WHY DO WE CAST STONES?” (Jn 10:31-42): 14 March 2008 (Friday)
A couple of days ago I got an email from a friend who, as she sometimes does, provided a link and suggested that I check out this clip from YouTube. The clip turned out to be an interview segment of a recent local beauty pageant. Apparently, the incident has been receiving a lot of attention the past days.
Eager for a good laugh, I clicked on the YouTube link, and there they were–over ten clips of the same single notorious incident had been uploaded! One of them, in fact, already received over 700,000 hits.
I sat back as I clicked on “Play,” an expectant grin on my face, all set to have a good time. But as I watched the hapless candidate struggle through her responses, losing all poise and giggling nervously at a certain point, I could feel the grin slowly getting eroded from my face. I realized that this was no laughing matter. Studying in a well-known downtown university in Metro Manila, the girl with her broken English and her thick accent made my heart sink because it also said a lot about the state of education in the country.
But more than that, it was for me quite excruciating to watch this young girl suffer through an ordeal like this–and for her ordeal to be seen not only on national television that night, but hundreds of thousands of times in the worldwide web… It wasn’t exactly entertainment fare.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I hate to be a party pooper, and I hate to spoil our fun, but in today’s gospel reading our Lord asks the Jews, “Why do you stone me?” For some reason I couldn’t help but remember that poor beauty contestant. And I couldn’t help but remember myself and my eagerness to get a good laugh. I felt some guilt and shame because I was all poised to cast my stone. The stone in my hand was the derisive laughter I was going to hurl at her and the harsh words of criticism that I was going to share with my friends afterwards–at her expense.
I think it was Robert Fulghum who wrote in one of his books, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words…words break my heart.” Amidst the laughter that exploded in the coliseum that night, I think I heard the sound of two hearts breaking.
Here’s a Quick Question for you: “Do you recall a time when harsh words and laugher were cast at you?” Think about it, and share a thought, a feeling, or a question.