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A Meditation On The Incarnation Of Christ, Sermons On The Life And
Passion Of Our Lord And Of Hearing And Speaking Good Words. -Thomas A Kempis

BUT Jesus bowing Himself down: wrote with His finger on the ground. The lovable Jesus, gentle teacher, true master, just judge, and compassionate Saviour, is narrated to be a writer: Who wrote not with ink, but with His finger on the ground. A good writer, Who wrote out mercy for the poor: and granted pardon to the sinner. Nor did He act contrary to the law: when He tempered the severity of the law. For the miserable need mercy: and justly is forgiveness granted to the truly penitent. O how beautiful a writing, and how skilled is this finger of God: when it soothed with words of clemency the sinner steeped in sorrow: and wisely silenced the malicious conspirators, eager for vengeance, unyielding to mercy: and by His words showed them to be worthy of confusion, saying, “He that is without sin among you: let him first cast a stone at her.” This against the accusers: and for the deliverance of the penitent from the mouth of the wolves. And now, good Jesus, what sayest Thou to the woman? Guilty of sin she awaits a good word, pronounce Thy sentence; she submits herself to Thy judgement: give a comforting answer. As Thou hast ever been wont to have compassion: so also now. “Neither will I,” He saith, “condemn thee.” What could be more gentle and more liberal unto the granting of forgiveness? Be consoled, guilty conscience: listen to the word of such loving compassion. If God be for thee, who shall stand against thee? Christ Jesus it is, Who justifies: who is he that shall condemn? And what wilt thou do further; what wilt thou offer in compensation for thy sin? Thou repentest of the crime committed: but a greater care is to be taken against future sins, before thou departest. “Go,” saith the most gentle Jesus: “and now sin no more.” What could be shorter, and more full unto remission: and to the satisfaction of perfect penance? Who knows hearts: He knew how much sorrow the sinful woman had. Jesus therefore used more abundant clemency, lest she should be overwhelmed by too grievous a sadness: who, having been publicly accused, suffered great shame for her fault.

Thou hast heard the clemency of the Saviour with its great consolation for sinners: strive thou also to acknowledge thy faults, and worthily to bewail them before, seized by the most wicked spirits, thou be forced in the future judgement to render an account of all. Say with the publican, “O God be merciful to me a sinner.” Nor distrust the mercy of the Redeemer: if only for the future thou desirest with all thy strength to guard against thy past sins: and perfectly to amend thy life.

Consider also in this act of Jesus, what He did by writing. Nor wonder that He knew how to write: nor ask with the Jews, whence He learnt to read and write: since He learnt not letters from man. Such questioning is foolish; and a lying, fictitious insinuation concerning the school of Jesus: for the Wisdom of God needed not the teaching of man, Who was born into this world to enlighten all the sons of men. And it was not merely easy to Him to read and write of Himself: but also of a sudden without any noise of words to render unlettered men, the Apostles namely, most skilled in all knowledge of tongues. And what wonder, if the Author of life fully knew the characters invented by mortals: Who most clearly beholds the secretest things of hearts and mysteries hidden from the ages. However it is pleasant to hear that Jesus knew how to read, and wrote: that the art of writing and the love of reading holy books may give greater delight. Which art many of the saints learnt; and with mouth and hand most diligently exercised, during their life in the flesh: and they very greatly enlightened holy Church by their writings. Jesus therefore was a splendid teacher, an excellent preacher; author and lover of the Scriptures: exemplary in conduct, edifying in words, and wondrous in signs. Let it please thee therefore to imitate Jesus reading, writing, and fulfilling the other observances of holy religion; so that thou mayest edify others by living worthily to God: who art not suited for preaching. A VERY GOOD WORK it is to write books which Jesus loves: in which He is studied, read, and preached. And there is no doubt that thou shalt be loved by Him and richly rewarded: if thou diligently write books for the Church to the honour of God, and the profit of the neighbour. If he lose not his reward, who offers a cup of cold water to the thirsty man; what great reward shall he receive, who, by writing, provides the water of saving wisdom for the soul, which is to live for ever? For as many letters as thou dost duly form: so many victims of praise dost thou offer to God. It is meritorious therefore and devout to labour at writing books, and to keep them in great reverence and careful custody; by means of which the Divine Office is daily celebrated: and whereby the seed of manifold instruction is sown.

For sacred books are the weapons of clerics, the ornament of churches: the wealth and treasure of doctors, the bugle of priests; the comfort of religious, the banquet of the devout, the legacy of the saints: the light of the faithful, the nursery of virtues, the organ of the Holy Ghost. To write books then is a labour pleasing to God, to read them is profitable, to teach them praiseworthy: to preach them wholesome. But who would read, or preach unless he first knew the writings of the saints: and unless a writer had first written them? Blessed then the hand of the writer: and blessed the fingers engaged in such toil. By His example Jesus teaches thee, writing on the ground: that thou also mayest willingly write the words of God; which while one reads, and another preaches: thou shalt gain a very great reward from the manifold fruit of the labours of thy hands. By the gift of Our Lord Jesus Christ the Rewarder of all the good; with Whom all the hairs of our head are numbered: and not a single letter written can be lost. Ah, happily, amen.

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