Vocation Meditation -
5th Sunday of Lent, 2010
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 the people, they said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. In the law, Moses commanded us to stone such a woman. Now what do you say?" They said this to test Jesus, so that they might have some charge to bring against him.
Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When the scribes and Pharisees kept on questioning him, Jesus 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 Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground.
When the scribes and Pharisees heard what Jesus had said, 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?" She said, "No one, sir." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again."
Jesus taught the people by way of teachings and by divine ways of handling situations brought in by his enemies. This time, it was a teaching on what to do with sinners clearly condemned by the Law of Moses. Jesus' words and actions reflected more than ever the heart of God reaching out to a broken humanity. Jesus' attitude to the sinner and His accusers involved a number of things:
It involved the 'second chance'. Jesus gave the woman the chance to go. With it was the chance to redeem herself by sinning no more. Jesus was intensely aware not only in what she had been but more so interested in what she could be. He was pointing her to a future that can be life-changing.
It involved pity. The authority of the scribes and Pharisees was set to condemn. They regarded sinners with disgust born of self righteousness. Jesus' authority was set to forgive. He regarded sinners with pity born of love.
It involved challenge. Jesus showed mercy to the sinner. What she heard was not an easy forgiveness. Jesus confronted the woman with the challenge of the sinless life. He confronted her wayward life with the challenge of the good, with the divine goodness she had never dreamed to experience.
It involved Jesus' belief in human nature. Jesus did not dwell on the misery of sinners. His attitude of honesty and kindness would inspire sinners with the unglimpsed discovery that they can be potential saints.
It also involved warning. A famous speaker said that when Jesus wrote on the ground, this gesture reminded his enemies of the very finger of God that wrote the 10 Commandments on the tablets. Jesus warned them that yes, the woman had sinned in one commandment. But in their hearts lurk sins that offended God in other ways. There, they faced judgment in their heart and verily acknowledged it. Before accusing others, we ourselves are in need of God's mercy and healing.
"Go and sin no more."
Do I believe God's boundless mercy makes potential saints?
You are slow to anger for you are gracious and merciful. I am very much the opposite. My self-righteousness blinds me. I am prone to judge and accuse others. Be merciful to me that I may be merciful like You. Help me each day to become gentle and forgiving towards myself and others. Make my vocation a challenge to spread your mercy and healing around me. Amen.
For the full Gospel reading for this Sunday, visit the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops site.