Fifth Sunday of Lent-C
Part of today’s Gospel is included in one of the flashback scenes in the movie, “The Passion of the Christ.” A woman who had been caught in the very act of adultery was brought to Jesus by the Scribes and Pharisees. And they asked Him: “Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?”
The Gospel goes on to say that “they said this to test Him, so that they could have some charge to bring against Him. And Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with His finger.”
Why did He do this? I will give you three theories, all of which are plausible.
The first theory says that Jesus did this to buy some time. It is like what we do when we say, “Would you please repeat the question?” He wanted to think things over in prayer, so He took some time to draw on the ground with His finger.
The second theory is that He wanted the Scribes and Pharisees to keep on talking so that maybe they would come to realize just how cruel they were being to that woman, and perhaps talk themselves out of it.
The third theory – and this is the one I like best – says that Jesus began writing down the sins of her accusers. And this gives a lot of punch to His statement, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” He resumed His writing. “And they went away one by one, beginning with the elders.”
The Gospel then says that “He was left alone with the woman before Him.” And He said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” And she replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”
This Gospel passage shows us how Jesus treats sinners: with His compassion and mercy.
As human beings, we are often tempted to hold other people to a higher standard than we live by. We criticize the faults of other people, when those same faults are glaringly part of our own lives.
Jesus is showing us how we should treat people who have done wrong: with compassion and mercy. As is said of doctors, “to frequently heal, often bring relief, but always deliver compassion.”
When we see someone else who has fallen into sin, our attitude should not be: “That stupid fool!” Rather we should remember how we have been forgiven by the Lord, perhaps in some very serious ways, and offer them the kind compassion and mercy that we have so gratefully received.
Jesus also shows us how He treats this individual who was before Him. He did not say that her sin was not serious or that it was no big deal. It was serious and a big deal. Rather, He forgave her and He gave her another chance. Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”
Our parish mission with Fr. Michael Denk, takes place in Saint Joseph Church on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday evenings this week at 7:00 PM. I hope that you can come.
And on Tuesday evening, our parish mission will conclude with a Communal Penance Service at 8:00 PM. with a good number of priests available for individual Confession and sacramental absolution.
Please take advantage of the Lord’s offer of mercy. Today’s Gospel shows us what kind of Savior we are privileged to have.
“Has no one condemned you?” And she replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”
What a mighty, compassionate and merciful Lord we serve!