Marking the Fifth Sunday of Lent, today’s Gospel reading (Jn 8:1-11) recounts the story of the Woman Caught in Adultery. In Jerusalem, several Pharisees and temple officials attempted to trap Jesus in His speech. Bringing a woman accused of adultery to Our Lord, they asked for His opinion on her punishment.
Jewish Law and Roman Law disagreed over the administration of capital punishment, and this was how the Pharisees expected to trap Jesus. If Christ had ordered the crowd to put the adulterer to death, He would have stood against the Roman government, which forbade anyone else from executing criminals. But if Jesus had applied Roman Law, He would have been exposed as a hypocrite and false prophet among the Jews.
Christ avoids the trap altogether. Unexpectedly to the Pharisees, Jesus moves from the matter of punishment and turns the question back on them. Ordering the sinless within the crowd to throw the first stone, suddenly, they realize what is at stake and walk away. Left standing there alone with the woman, Jesus forgives her and instructs her to sin no more.
In this story, we see the mercy of God in action. It is a manifestation of a passage found earlier in John’s Gospel. Christ came not to condemn us, but to save us from sin. As long as we are breathing, Our Lord is working to bring us into the glory of His kingdom. This Lent, take the opportunity to meet Him along the way. In prayer, in Scripture, and in the sacraments, He is waiting for us.
1037 God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want “any to perish, but all to come to repentance”:
Father, accept this offering
from your whole family.
Grant us your peace in this life,
save us from final damnation,
and count us among those you have chosen.