John 8:1-11 (NRSV)
Then each of them went home, while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, 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. Now what do you say?" They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
Jesus said [to the woman caught in adultery], "Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again."
- John 8:11 (NRSV)
IN the days of Jesus, stoning to death was punishment for the sin of adultery. Degrading and humiliating, stoning ended in a slow and painful death. In today's high-tech society, more sophisticated weapons are used to degrade and humiliate. We self-righteously use different "stones" against one another, forgetting that we too are sinners who "fall short" of God's grace.
Notice Jesus' actions when the woman is brought before him: he listens and silently writes in the sand. He is defusing a volatile situation. "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her," he says.
Jesus' words probe deep into the dark, hidden recesses of my own sinful heart. I look within myself. Jesus' gentle reproof, "Go, and sin no more," (KJV) reminds me of his infinite compassion. Jesus has challenged me. Not only am I called to avoid sinning myself; I am also called to forgive the sins of others.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, give us the grace to let go of self-righteousness. Help us to see our neighbors with eyes of compassion and love. We pray as you taught us, saying, "Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation."* Amen.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:
Forgive freely, forgive fully.
Someone I tend to judge