Monday, March 14, 2016

Reflection: John 8:1-11


Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent -  John 8:1-11

In today’s gospel, Jesus was teaching in the temple area when the Pharisees came to him, bringing a woman who had been caught in adultery.  They placed the woman right in the middle of the crowd.  Imagine how this woman felt.  What are the emotions you would experience if someone brought you into the midst of a crowd of people and then they told these people about all the wrongs you had done? I assume most of us would be humiliated, angry, and perhaps afraid!

The Pharisees began by quoting the law to Jesus (as if Jesus did not know the law). They told him that the law of Moses said that any woman should be stoned to death for her adultery. (Note: the stoning did not apply to the man who also had committed adultery. The only person to be stoned would be the woman.)

The Pharisees wanted to hear what Jesus thought should be her punishment. Of course, they were only testing Jesus. They hoped to find something in his response that would give them cause to arrest him. This was the sole purpose of their encounter with Jesus.  Jesus realized that the Pharisees were trying to trap him. He knew that if he deviated from the Law of Moses, they would most likely charge him and arrest him.

Jesus chose an unusual course of action. He simply bent over and began to write in the dirt. His action took the Pharisees by surprise. This was no answer! So they continued to ask Jesus the same question. Finally, Jesus responded by telling the Pharisees that whoever was without sin should throw the first stone at the woman.  One by one, the Pharisees slipped away.   Did they experience any shame about what they had done to this woman? Were they just furious that Jesus had bested them?

Then Jesus quietly asked the woman where everyone had gone.  Had anyone condemned her? This woman must have been astounded that someone had stood up for her.  She knew she had sinned, yet this man, Jesus, had protected her from the Pharisees.  What a life-changing moment this must have been for this woman! Did she start to have the sense that she was worth something after all?

Do we trust Jesus to be as deeply compassionate and forgiving with us as he was with this woman? Our sins may not be quite as serious as this woman’s was.  Do we trust that Jesus loves us and will forgive us, no matter how greatly we have sinned?  Let us focus on the compassion and understanding that Jesus exemplifies in the Gospel reading.  Jesus has deep compassion and love for us also – no matter what we have done or how we have sinned.

Do we truly trust Jesus and his word? If not, may we pray for the grace to open our hearts to Jesus and receive his love and forgiveness! He is waiting for us!

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