Today we hear from the Gospel of John 8:1-11. It is one of the more famous Gospels. The Scribes and Pharisees are trying again to catch Jesus breaking the law. As the story goes, they brought a woman caught in adultery. They make her stand in the center of all the action to embarrass her even more.
They taunt Jesus by saying “this woman was caught in adultery. Moses told us to stone such women. What do you say?” Jesus bends down and begins to write on the ground with his finger almost saying to them “you really don’t have a case here.” They continue to question and challenge him to do something about this sinner. One of the interesting things about the times in which this story takes place is that adultery could have been her showing an unclothed ankle as she walked or bent to pick something up. Jesus addresses the Pharisees and Scribes saying, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Jesus bends and writes on the ground again. One by one, the Jewish leadership walks away. Jesus asks, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you? Then neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
In this story, no one was able to condemn the woman because they had no proof of what happened. As I mentioned, adultery in those days could have been a very simple thing and not really adultery.
The challenge this reading poses to us is: are we quick to condemn people we disagree with? Do we become judge and jury when someone does something we believe is wrong? Are we quick to accuse and slow to forgive? These are not easy questions for us to deal with. What Jesus is saying to us is to have compassion for those who are sinful. To forgive even when it is hard to do so. To be sure we are right, and even then, question ourselves just in case we are the ones who are in error.
Are there people in our world that are truly evil? Yes. There is no doubt. It is not our job to condemn. Our job is to turn it over to the Lord and let him make the decision.
Deacon Jim Sullivan