Daily Reflection – 3/27/2023
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 anymore.” (John 8:1-11)
Once again, the scribes and Pharisees seek to discredit Jesus in any way they could. Not only does Jesus not enter the trap, but his actions cause them to slink away, and his actions teach us a powerful lesson about mercy, forgiveness and renewal.
Jewish law treated adultery as a serious crime since it violated God’s ordinance and wreaked havoc on the stability of marriage and family life.. If Jesus said the woman must be pardoned, he would be accused of breaking the law of Moses. If he said the woman must be stoned, he would lose his reputation for being the merciful friend of sinners.
Jesus then does something quite unexpected – he begins to write in the sand. The word for “writing” which is used here in the Gospel text has a literal meaning “to write down a record against someone” (for another example see Job 13:26). Perhaps Jesus was writing down a list of the sins of the accusers standing before him. Jesus now turns the challenge towards his accusers. In effect he says: Go ahead and stone her! But let the man who is without sin be the first to cast a stone.
When the adulterous woman is left alone with Jesus, he both expresses mercy and he strongly exhorts her to not sin again. The scribes wished to condemn, Jesus wished to forgive and to restore the sinner to health. His challenge involved a choice – either to go back to her former way of sin and death or to reach out to God’s offer of forgiveness, restoration, and new life in his kingdom of peace and righteousness. Jesus gave her pardon and a new start on life. God’s grace enables us to confront our sin for what it is – unfaithfulness to God, and to turn back to God with a repentant heart and a thankful spirit for God’s mercy and forgiveness.
The absolute wonder of God is the ability to forgive us. His love is so exponential that it is always there. He asks only that we take the first sin of asking forgiveness. To turn to Him and know that His love will wipe the slate clean of anything that has offended us.
That healing allows a new chapter to occur in our relationship. Unburdened now of guilt, refreshed now in low, we are given the chance to walk with Him. I know from personal experience, as well as countless parishioners over the years, that the renewed walk with Him strengthens us, sustains us, and is a sense of peace and joy.
Don’t ever hesitate. Tale the hand of the One who walks with us every day, who waits for us to renew ourselves in Him. Such a gift! Such a wonder!
Prayer of The Day
“God our Father, we find it difficult to come to you, because our knowledge of you is imperfect. . . But since Jesus came among us, he has shown that you are loving, that you are on our side against all that stunts life, and that our resentment against you was groundless. So, we come to you, asking you to forgive our past ignorance, and wanting to know more and more of you and your forgiving love, through Jesus Christ our Lord. “(Prayer of Augustine of Hippo)
If Jesus stands in mercy with the underdog, that’s where Christians are challenged to stand. Is that where we are?
Without minimizing her sinfulness, Jesus showed the sinner the respect she deserved as a human being, treating her with compassion. Clearly, he valued repentance and conversion more than simple reprisal. Not only did Jesus not condemn the woman, he even gave her hope for the future. Jesus is thus portrayed as a living expression of the Divine Mercy, a wise and kind judge, more concerned with forgiveness and rehabilitation than with punishment and death. God’s grace enables us to confront our sin for what it is – unfaithfulness to God, and to turn back to God with a repentant heart and a thankful spirit for God’s mercy and forgiveness.