In our Gospel Reading today a bunch of self-righteous Scribes and Pharisees brought a woman to Jesus with the claim that she was “caught” in the act of adultery. Following the law of Moses, they were going to stone her to death. Where was the Man? We do not commit adultery alone. Only the woman was to be stoned to death. This is called gross injustice. If they were really just, why punish one of the partners and let the other just go free.
Only Jesus can say “Mom! Put that stone down”
This woman’s story makes us think of thousands of people who bear the guilt of others and who suffer. They suffer not for the fact that they sinned, but for the fact that they are the weak in the society. They have no money, they are children or women, they are not from a particular race or tribe etc. In effect some suffer because they cannot buy justice to their favor. They bear their own sins and those of others.
True enough these “law-abiding Scribes and Pharisees” wanted to set three traps for Jesus:
– Firstly, if Jesus agreed with them that the woman should be stoned to death, as laid down by Moses, then Jesus would lose His reputation of being a compassionate teacher;
– Secondly, Jesus would come in collusion with the Roman authorities because except the Romans no one had the right to condemn anyone to death. And
– Thirdly, if Jesus said that she should be forgiven then he was obviously teaching people to break the law of Moses concerning adultery.
Jesus overcomes their trap in two ways: First of all, by keeping silent and secondly by the question “If there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her”.
Did Jesus encourage the woman to go on sinning? A big no! He never condoned with her sin. He never told her “Go on sinning”. He instead told her to SIN NO MORE. This is charity and justice being put in place.
We are all sinners. John tells us sternly that “if we say ‘we have no sin’, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth has no place in us. (1 John 1:8). Jesus will forgive you and me if we are willing to get up out of the mud and do our best to avoid the sins that threw us into the slime.
We are not Mr. or Ms. Perfect, and we are never encouraged to be Mr. or Ms. Perfect. God loves you and me for whom we are, with our blemishes. When we realize that we have behaved in a sinful way we must come back to Jesus and ask for Forgiveness. These Scribes and Pharisees in our Gospel text today were Mr. and Ms. Perfect who saw the sin in others. Jesus on the other hand is the refuge of sinners who is always kind and companionate.
Now let us decide: Are you Mr./Ms. Perfect or are you a refuge of sinners?