MARCH 22. LENT. WK. 5. MON. JN. 8. 1-11
Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At daybreak he appeared in the Temple again; and as all the people came to him, he sat down and began to teach them.
The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman along who had been caught committing adultery; and making her stand there in full view of everybody, they said to Jesus, ‘Master, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery, and Moses has ordered us in the Law to condemn women like this to death by stoning. What have you to say?’ They asked him this as a test, looking for something to use against him. But Jesus bent down and started writing on the ground with his finger. As they persisted with their question, he looked up and said, ‘If there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Then he bent down and wrote on the ground again. When they heard this they went away one by one, beginning with the eldest, until Jesus was left alone with the woman, who remained standing there. He looked up and said, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir’ she replied. ‘Neither do I condemn you,’ said Jesus ‘go away, and do not sin any more.’
One of the most important reading from the scriptures for the Christian who gives any thought at all to his own death, as all of us; - when our time comes; - will be dependent on the merciful love of Jesus Christ, which he bears witness to in this Gospel.
The scribes and Pharisees were right when they paraded this woman before Jesus and they expected him to condemn her for the many times she had offended God, as they knew what The Law dictated!
And Jesus could not have been criticised had he agreed with the Pharisees and condemned the woman. There was a big difference however between Jesus and the Pharisees in that the Pharisees knew The Law, but Jesus was merciful; - and he knew not only The Law; - but also the Heart and Circumstances of each and every living person.
And this is why Christ told us clearly; - “Do not judge others”; - and the reason for this is the only heart and circumstances we “know” is our own! He even went further, telling us that if we do not show mercy to others then he will not show mercy to us!
The Pharisees knew The Law, but they lacked any understanding at all of Love and Mercy, and when it comes to the judgement, and particularly Eternal Judgement all three are intimately intertwined; - something Jesus demonstrates in this reading.
This was an important teaching the Pharisees did not understand; - and not only the Pharisees; - many people today still do not understand it! How many of us can claim to be “not guilty” of judging others when we see them sin, or disobey the Law?
The Pharisee view is clear, the Law must be obeyed, and when it is not then the offender must be condemned! How grateful we must be that this does not reflect the mind of God, who wants us to obey the Law; - but when we do not, he gives us time to come to him and to repent of our sins; - an approach to life, called Charity and Love, that the Pharisees did not understand!
“Lord, how many times must I forgive my brother, - seven times?” ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven! – If he comes back seven times saying I repent, you must forgive him!’