Gospel Reflection for the 5th Sunday of Lent Year C – March 17th 2013
Full scripture for this Sunday is available on our parish website. Daily Scripture is also available. Our parish Prayers of the Faithful for this Sunday are made available on the Dublin Diocesan website.
Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At daybreak he appeared in the Temple again; and as all the people came to him, he sat down and began to teach them.
The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman along who had been caught committing adultery; and making her stand there in full view of everybody, they said to Jesus, ‘Master, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery, and Moses has ordered us in the Law to condemn women like this to death by stoning. What have you to say?’ They asked him this as a test, looking for something to use against him. But Jesus bent down and started writing on the ground with his finger. As they persisted with their question, he looked up and said, ‘If there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her’. Then be bent down and wrote on the ground again. When they heard this they went away one by one, beginning with the eldest, until Jesus was left alone with the woman, who remained standing there. He looked up and said,
‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’
‘No one, sir’ she replied.
‘Neither do I condemn you,’ said Jesus ‘go away, and don’t sin any more.’
This is a powerful story of justice and mercy. Jesus is on the side of the woman who has been accused of sin and crime. It was an unjust accusation, and people who brought her had little good in mind.
More than forgiveness
Jesus has more than forgiveness – he brings mercy. Mercy forgives with compassion and doesn’t read lectures. It restores dignity to the victims of injustice in society today – like the refugee, the elderly, people who are gay, any who do not receive their dignity because of something they are, or something they did and are unjustly treated.
Jesus did not condemn ; he turns the tables a bit. Anyone here without sin – take the stone and throw it. Nobody does. In this atmosphere of darkness we need to hear something of the love and the mercy of God. The light of mercy came into this darkness of condemnation and they all left their darkness into a personal space where they may have a change of heart.
Gospel is also about the challenge to live honestly and without sin; and to be able to takes steps like this woman’s life, to move on. All hear this word from Jesus – I do not condemn you. This comes to our society and to ourselves. We need to hear this word for ourselves as often we throw stones at ourselves more than at others. What we condemn in others is what sometimes we do not like in ourselves.
Lord may we enter this world of mercy wherever we need to. May we hear these words always, I do not condemn you.
Donal Neary SJ