FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT
(Violet) Cycle C, Year I (March 13, 2016)
Is 43:16-21/Phil 3:8-14/Jn 8:1-11
The story of the adulterous woman is a story that shows the great mercy of God towards the humanity, in particular, towards the sinners. According to the Law of Moses, adultery is punishable by death. For this reason, the Jews were asking Jesus His opinion on it. Clearly, they were testing Jesus to find a reason to condemn Him because If Jesus would say that they should stone the woman to death, then, it would be against His preaching about the mercy and the love of God. On the other hand, if Jesus would say that they should not stone the woman to death, then, the Jews would accuse Him of not observing the Law of Moses. In either response, Jesus would be condemned to death.
In handling this situation, Jesus changed the focus from the adulterous woman to the people themselves. He said: “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (Jn 8:7b). With these words, Jesus was giving them a principle of morality and of relationship with others: Only the one who has not committed any sin has the right to condemn a sinner. Some biblical scholars said that while Jesus was waiting for the actions or reactions of the Jews, He was writing on the ground the different kinds of sins committed by them. The Jews, having examined their consciences and discovering that they too were sinners, left the place one by one without condemning the adulterous woman. Jesus then asked the woman if somebody condemned her, to which the woman replied negatively. He then said to the her: “Neither do I condemn you” (Jn 8:11b).
The astonishing moment was when the Jews left the place and the only ones who were left were the adulterous woman and Jesus, that is, the sinner and the one who had no sin. Having no trace of sin, Jesus could have condemned the adulterous woman to death but He did not do it. He showed the face of God to the adulterous woman: God is love and merciful. He is not an avenging God; He is a God who loves to forgive.
Jesus forgave the adulterous woman and never held her sin against her. He totally forgave her and forgot her sins. But then, there was a condition. Jesus said to her: “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore” (Jn 8:11c). Jesus gave her a second chance to live a new life in the grace of God. He restored her dignity as a child of God and gave her the opportunity to live in accordance to the will of God.
Like the adulterous woman, all of us are sinners since we commit a lot of sins every day. Consequently, we have no right to condemn others who may have committed graver sins than what we have done. We have to remember that it is only God who is judge and who has the right to judge us. To judge others is to usurp the right of God and thus to offend God directly. Instead of judging others, we must pray for them. Moreover, God loves us and waits for us to repent and come back to His loving embrace. He does not condemn us; He only wants our conversion and salvation.
Consequently, we need to go to Him especially through the Sacrament of Confession and ask for the forgiveness of our sins. We also need to commit ourselves to renewing our lives and to living according to the teachings of Jesus Christ. We should not be afraid. It is the mercy of God that sustains us and it is the love of God that makes our lives meaningful. Having renewed by the mercy and the love of God, we are empowered by the grace of God to be instruments of His love and mercy to others. May we forgive from the heart those who have wronged us and may we be charitable to those who are in need this Lenten season and onwards.