5th Sunday of Lent Year C - 3/4/2022 - Gospel: Jn 8: 1-11
All Guilty
Jesus came to the Temple to pray and to give thanks to God. The Pharisees and Scribes came to the Temple with different mindset. They came not to pray but to find way of eliminating Jesus. They brought with them a woman who, according to them, had committed adultery. They had already condemned her to a slow and painful death by stoning, and yet they asked Jesus' opinion. They had no intention of seeking His approval, but rather discrediting Him. Previously, the Pharisees and Scribes had accused Jesus of being friends with tax collectors and dining with sinners. Lk 15:3. They judged Him to be the prince of devils- Lk 11:15. They wanted to demonstrate Jesus was a sinner. They would have not hesitated to stone Him to death when they stoned the adulteress. They had discussed amongst themselves and came up with a plot: that whichever answer Jesus gave -agree or disagree- He would not avoid danger. If He agreed, Jesus would betray His own teaching about God's love, mercy and forgiveness, and then He would be partly responsible for the adulteress' horrible death. If He disagreed, they would charged Him with having had no respect for the Law, and then He would lose all the support from the crowd.

Adultery involves not one, but two persons. They did not bring the man, but only the woman. There are a number of flaws in their plan. First, they were bias in their judgment about women. Second, they discriminated against the woman since she was not allowed to say a single word. Third, we don't know whether they have the power to detain the woman legally or whether they kidnapped her. Forth, they caught the adulteress by sheer accident or they intentionally planned it beforehand for this special occasion. Fifth, how would they know where about the woman worked and how was it that they caught her in the middle of the act.

At first, Jesus showed no interest in taking up their challenge. He purposely bent down and wrote on the ground. First, instead of looking at them, Jesus looked on the ground to defuse the tension. Second, Jesus refused to let them take control of the situation, especially the timing. He was the One Who would decide when and how to reply. What He had written on the ground was unknown. Finally, Jesus told them:

'If there is any of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her'. Jn 8:8.

He bent down and wrote again, ignoring of their reaction. Jesus' response was not only shattered of their plan but also made them feel guilty. He asked them to examine of their own conscience. The accusers now became the accused. The Pharisees and Scribes arrived with their heads high, proudly believing that they were holy and just. The woman was a sinner. After the examination of their conscience, they realized that they were all sinners. The only difference was their sin was covered, while the adulteress was revealed. Facing their own demons, they quietly left the scene one by one. After they had left, the woman now had her voice. 'Has no one condemn you?', Jesus asked her. 'No one, sir' she replied. 'Neither do I condemn you'. Go away and sin no more Jn 8:11.

This brief dialogue is worth paying special attention to because Jesus revealed His true identity. a/ He would not condemn her. b/ He was the only One Who had no sin and had the full right to cast the first stone, and yet He chose not to. c/ He chose to forgive, to pardon. d/ He had the power to forgive sin. e/ He gave the woman her new life, a new beginning, a change of heart. f/ He gave her eternal life.

In the parable of the Prodigal Son Lk 15, the father pardoned the sons who wronged him. In the Adulterous woman, Jesus saved her from stoning and pardoned her sin. He opened the eyes of the accusers to see their own selfishness. Our God is God of compassion.