Gospel Reflection Apr 3 – Deacon Paul
Sunday, April 3
Fifth Sunday of Lent
John 8: 1 – 11
Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area,
and all the people started coming to him,
and he sat down and taught them.
Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman
who had been caught in adultery
and made her stand in the middle.
They said to him,
“Teacher, this woman was caught
in the very act of committing adultery.
Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.
So what do you say?”
They said this to test him,
so that they could have some charge to bring against him.
Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger.
But when they continued asking him,
he straightened up and said to them,
“Let the one among you who is without sin
be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.
And in response, they went away one by one,
beginning with the elders.
So he was left alone with the woman before him.
Then Jesus straightened up and said to her,
“Woman, where are they?
Has no one condemned you?”
She replied, “No one, sir.”
Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.
Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”
Today we have a very familiar Gospel reading from John about Jesus saving a woman accused of adultery. In that time, a woman caught in the act of adultery faced death by being stoned. Our story today does not make any mention of the man. In that patriarchal society, people were more likely to excuse a man than a woman for sexual sin. But also, the scribes and Pharisees needed only the woman for their wicked purposes as they did not see her as a human being, but as a tool they could use to entrap Jesus. For you see, it is really Jesus who is on trial today. They have seen Jesus deal mercifully with sinners, and they are hoping to show that Jesus has strayed away from the Mosaic Law.
The scribes and Pharisees think they have caught Jesus in a Catch 22 type situation in which they can discredit him in front of the people. They knew that Jesus had shown his character of being forgiving and in this case of adultery, it was either upholding the law of Moses, or forgiving the woman of her sin. If Jesus says that the woman should not be stoned, they can bring charges against him for subverting the Mosaic Law. But, if he says that she should be stoned, his decision will cost him the support of the common people who would be offended by his strict adherence to the Law.
The people understood that these men were trying to ensnare Jesus and that they were not truly interested in either response he could make. But what does Jesus do, he turns their trap against them and showed those who were there the hypocrisy of these Jewish leaders. He asks them this well-known question: “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” The woman’s accusers, realizing they have been, walk away.
Jesus then asks, “Where are your accusers now? Has no one condemned you? To which the woman answers, “No one sir.” Then Jesus uses these most powerful of words…these words of healing…these words of consolation…to the woman that was about to be stoned to death… “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”
Friends, what sin weighs you down today? What does Jesus say to you about it? If you know you are forgiven, how will you live? Will you let Jesus set you free? During this season of Lent, let us look to Jesus for his mercy and his forgiveness of our sins.
Deacon Paul Zemanek