Forgiveness - The Woman in Adultery
What a dramatic day for this woman in the Gospel.
A woman caught in adultery--- the shame--- the disgrace
She was tried, convicted and sentenced to death all in the same day; her penalty- stone her to death; maybe she deserved it; maybe she was guilty;
The men were quick to accuse;
Why did the leaders of the temple bring her to Jesus? They were trying to test Him. They were trying to set Him up. What would Jesus do? What would we do? This is a clear cut case. When someone is accused, we can be quick to condemn, particularly if someone is caught red-handed.
There was no question about her guilt or innocence
they were about to stone her to death. ---Jesus does not respond immediately. He is not quick to judge. He knows that the accusers were as guilty as the woman was. He writes in the sand. We don’t know what he wrote. Maybe he was writing their names.
This is the only time in scripture in which Jesus wrote anything, but it made everyone stop to think.
Today, we hear accusations all the time. We want to jump in. We are quick to accuse without knowing the facts. At one time, people were entitled to the benefit of the doubt- not anymore
Why are we so quick to condemn? When we have a negative attitude toward others, we think that everyone is guilty of something. It makes us feel good when someone else is in trouble.
We can condemn others with our speech- that’s what gossip is- public condemnation of someone;
Today, our world is very accusatory. One group of people against another. Jesus brings unity. Jesus heals the anger and hatred. Jesus diffuses the accusers, and says, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Jesus presents a new point of view. Now their anger dies down. The power of our own conscience convicts us. The men are humbled as they become aware of their own sinfulness. We suddenly become aware that we have no right to condemn anyone.
The accusers walk away, but Jesus isn’t finished---- Neither will I condemn you-- says the Son of God. Knowing that the woman had sinned--- he says, “Go and sin no more.” Suddenly, the woman who escaped being stoned to death is set free. There is no reprimand; no condemnation; no lecture. Last week, in the parable of the prodigal, the father welcomed his son back without asking him any questions
How do we react to what Jesus said? Is it fair that she got off scot-free? Was she entitled to the benefit of the doubt? We might say she didn’t deserve to be forgiven. God’s mercy is not fair.
Jesus would later die on the cross for the woman caught in adultery
Isn’t that what Jesus does for us? Even though we have all sinned, Jesus is our defender. We all need a defender.
God is so merciful it makes us angry—God forgives people we wouldn’t even think of forgiving.
We could just imagine some news show that would have talked about this for hours- did she deserve the death penalty ---did she deserve to be forgiven –after all she did violate the law - was it fair that Jesus forgave her. No, it’s not fair, because mercy is not fair; it is just and right.
Maybe, there is someone in our lives whom we need to forgive. We forgive because God has forgiven us.
We all deserved to be put to death, but Jesus did it for us.
The more we understand how much Jesus has forgiven us---, the more we can forgive others. We don’t have a right to withhold our love because love was given to us freely.
In the sacrament of reconciliation, asking for forgiveness puts us at peace with God and with one another
The Gospel reminds us that we do not need to throw stones at one another. Can we forget the wrongdoing? Can we forgive even the guilty?
Next week is Palm Sunday, then Holy Week. We need to spend time reminding ourselves that God loves us.
Jesus says to us, “neither will I condemn you ---go and sin no more.”