Early this morning I took a long walk and went to Mass at the church where I was baptized. Although my family hasn’t attended there for many years, whenever I’m home I try and stop by at least once. Lots of memories in that space.
The gospel reading this morning (John 7:53-8:11) was the story about the woman caught in the act of adultery. Just to refresh your memory, the Pharisees were trying to slip Jesus up, so they brought this woman to him and asked him what they should do. The law said that she should be stoned for her sin. Jesus had another idea.As the Pharisees watched, Jesus bent down and began writing in the sand. According to some Biblical scholars, Jesus took his time writing out the various sins of those who were ready to stone this woman.
As they watched the words get etched in the sand, they backed away when he said, let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her. They realized that Jesus knew everything about them. They were probably terrified.
When Jesus got up, the scribes and Pharisees had all disappeared. He asked the woman if she had been condemned by them, and she said she hadn’t. He then told her that he wasn’t going to condemn her either, but admonished her to stop sinning.
What a scene! More often than not, we’re ready to grab the nearest stone and throw it at someone we are judging. It happens all the time with people I know, and I’m guilty of it myself. Maybe such quick judgments make us feel better, deflecting attention away from our own behavior and focusing it on someone else.
But Jesus holds out a different model. We know he doesn’t want us to sin. But we also know he doesn’t want us to judge others. In this story, he reminds us that he came to reconcile the world to himself, one person at a time. He didn’t waste his time throwing stones, and neither should we.
So, for these remaining days of Lent, let’s all try to work on our own behaviors and focus less on everyone else around us. Reconciliation is the goal of these next couple of weeks that will bring us to Easter.
What needs to be reconciled in your life?