“Neither do I condemn you: go,..” And with that, she left the last member of her company. Now she was truly alone, alone to live.

I call her Margaret. I do not know what her name was, neither do I have a reason for calling her Margaret except for that it is a female name. I know the name of the man who was last to leave her: Jesus. Of the many other men who brought her to Jesus but were first to leave I know no name, neither will I give any. But I would like to give the name Barak to the man who occasioned all this hullabaloo. Here again I have no other reason for my choice than that Barak is a male name.

When Margaret first came into Barak’s apartment, she was alone (or so she thought); and he was also, for so he told her. “Cold nights bite. I’ll be honest to ensure you get fairly compensated for this inconvenience. Take a rest and tell me all about those pearls and what they cost,” Barak chimed. Margaret thought she saw a shadow move quickly outside the window, as she looked over Barak’s shoulder. “Are we truly alone?” she asked, “But why did you even insist I come at this time? It is not just the cold, but the temple police, if they should see me …” Barak shot back with the confidence of a cock, “Not a soul ever wondered around here at such an hour as this. If there were anything to challenge our solitude, it is this pounding in my heart, this yearning to lay my hand on those precious pebbles.”

One hour later, it was dawn. Margaret was still sobbing, and cursing at Barak who looked on nonchalantly. “You are despicable” she said. “My instincts already told me your request for a rendezvous had other motives than a discussion about jewellery. If only I had listened to them! Now what do you call this? Adultery or not? Worse than adultery. It is rape! Rapist! You have raped me!” she shouted. Barak sneered back: “But it was with your consent.” At that she nearly tore down the neighborhood with her cries of rage. All her tiny frame convulsed, spewing out spit, tears and cursing as when a volcano erupts. But suddenly, her screams were drowned by a loud banging on the door followed by an eerie order: “Come out, two of you, and with your hands upon your heads.” It was the shadow Margaret had seen move behind the window when she first entered, which had now turned into a gallant representative of the temple police who kept wake to ensure that no one abused solitude.

Barak was a skillful recidivist evildoer who knew how to outwit the law. He grabbed the emeralds Margaret had brought supposedly to sell to him, opened the door suddenly, flashed the pearls in the eyes of the policeman and handed him the booty. With that the officer smiled: “You can go. Pass there. And fast. Let no man know about it.” Barak disappeared in a split-second, a free man. The officer then turned to the poor lady and, with medieval violence, pushed her out unto the pavement. Before his colleagues arrived, Margret was in blood. Together they hauled the bleeding felon to the guardhouse, sought audience with the Chief Priest’s Aide-de-Camp, and kept her in ward. The detestable solitude lasted two hours, and then she was presented to the priesthood. As if in a rehearsed procedure, the ceremonial washings were done, the judgment sat, and the sentence was passed: death by stoning. Margret who had been trembling at every word from the ecclesiastical jury, now slumped at the sentence, and fluttered feebly as more chains were added to her limbs.

An adviser to the priesthood brought out a wild idea: instead of sending Margaret immediately to the public square for stoning, they should first use her to tempt their archenemy the Messiah. This way, he said, they would “make Margaret both a bait and a fish, and thereby kill two birds with one stone.” Jesus was not far away. From the Mount of Olives where he spent the night praying, he had come to the temple to partake in the morning worship. They presented the prisoner, together with her accusation and a question as to what to do concerning her in the light of Moses’ law. The response Jesus gave dispersed the would-be killers and left the woman, first in a shaky solitude with Jesus alone, and then finally in a beautiful solitude on her own.


Early Warning

The greatness of a coming event may be depicted by how early it is announced before it happens. If it is a small event, so that the consequences of the event arriving unannounced are trivial, the announcement can be delayed till the event is quite close. But if it is a major event, so that the dangers of meeting the event unprepared are grievous, then the announcement must be made well in advance. For example, I can wait till a few days to tell my friends I have a birthday next week, but if it is a national event like a presidential election, the announcement begins a year earlier. Similarly, a bicycle can wait till a few yards before ringing the bell to warn off pedestrians, but a train blows the horn while it is still miles away. So we are told that Noah took 120 years to warn the world before the great flood, because the flood was of global proportions. Now, the second coming of Christ has been announced continually for two thousand years running! That period is about ten times the period for Noah’s earth-wide flood that killed all creatures. Now after two thousand years, the second coming of Christ is still waiting to happen!