Gospel JN 8:1-11
Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area,
and all the people started coming to him,
and he sat down and taught them.
Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman
who had been caught in adultery
and made her stand in the middle.
They said to him,
“Teacher, this woman was caught
in the very act of committing adultery.
Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.
So what do you say?”
They said this to test him,
so that they could have some charge to bring against him.
Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger.
But when they continued asking him,
he straightened up and said to them,
“Let the one among you who is without sin
be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.
And in response, they went away one by one,
beginning with the elders.
So he was left alone with the woman before him.
Then Jesus straightened up and said to her,
“Woman, where are they?
Has no one condemned you?”
She replied, “No one, sir.”
Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.
Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”
+Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me and console me, tell me what I ought to do and command me to do it, I promise to be submissive to all you allow to happen to me, only show me Thy most Holy Will. Amen
“Neither do I condemn you.” Can you enter into this woman’s heart even a little- feel the shame of being caught in sin, the guilt and self loathing? Can you feel the fear that is arresting her heart? Watch her as they take hold of her and pull her into the temple area where our Lord is, in the midst of others. Can you hear the noise and clamor that surrounds this moment, the accusations, shouts, and cries; ‘stone her!’ Look at Jesus. How do you see Him looking at her? Is He condemning? Look at His gaze resting upon her - He the Lover of all souls, He the Lover of sinners, He who is meek and humble of heart. What do you see in His gaze as he looks at the adulterous woman? How did she feel, when Mercy gazed upon her in her misery, in her moment of extreme fear?
“Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” “Words of absolution”- the most comforting words she could have heard, she must have sobbed. We hear very similar words in confession. After we state our ‘resolve’ to sin no more, to avoid all near occasions of sin, we hear the words of Jesus through the priest; “I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
What is preventing me from humbly coming before Him, in my shame, guilt, and pain in my failures and sin? Is it fear? When was the last time I went to confession, humbly opening my heart to His Mercy and Love? What fear is preventing me from approaching His gentle heart?
“If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.” (St Mother Teresa)
2nd Lectio Point to Ponder
“Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
It seems that in this passage, there is an underlying activity going on, deeper than just the woman being caught in adultery, deeper than just bringing a wrong to light. The Scribes and Pharisees are attempting to test Jesus by using this woman’s sin as a means to bring a charge against Him. There is coldness and calculation in this activity of theirs that is heartless. It must have hurt His gentle heart so deeply; the duplicity of their intention. He who is the Lover of all souls, He who is Truth, must have ached because of their hardness of hearts and duplicity. His sensitive heart must have suffered. Perhaps the woman’s reaction to His words brought some comfort and solace to Him. There must have been gratitude in her heart and hopefully in her voice.
What can we learn from our Lord? Perhaps the incredible condescension of God, who humbly, patiently and meekly leads each one of us into Truth: not only the woman caught in adultery bur the Pharisees and Scribes. Our Lord never humiliated, condemned, or accused. He simply called all present all those around Him, into living in the Truth. “Let the one among you who is without sin, be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Let us listen to these very words of Jesus personally, let them echo in the heart. Where in my life am I bringing someone into ‘judgement,’ ready to throw a stone at them, justified in my manner about it, not listening to the voice of Love that calls me into Truth? Where in my life am I allowing a judgement made of another person to get in the way of my relationship with the Lord?
“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” (St Mother Teresa)
Aspiration: Loving Father, let me know you, who are Mercy, from Your gaze upon me, that I look at others with your eyes of Mercy. Amen