The woman caught in adultery

HINTS AND TRACES - Fr. Roy Cimagala (The Freeman) - December 8, 2019 - 12:00am

This episode in the gospel of St. John, chapter 8, verses 1 to 11 is a very nice story that shows us how Christ deals with sinners, teaching us how we have to deal with others who may not even be sinners but who simply happen to differ with our opinion or even with the teachings of the Church.

Like Christ we have to be kind, patient, merciful, magnanimous, even with those who clearly in error or who may have offended not only us but also God. To be sure, it is not a matter of erasing the difference between right and wrong, grace and sin.

In that gospel episode, the woman was dragged before Christ by the teachers of the law and some Pharisees with the intention of trapping Christ in something that can be used to accuse him. There we already have what is usually wrong when we accuse others of something. Our intentions are usually not pure.

Of course, they were trying to see if Christ again would declare himself as the Son of God who became man to redeem us, something that they couldn’t accept. They already had a fixed preconceived bias, an unbelief and even hatred against Christ, they were just trying to justify their attitude toward him.

What Christ did baffled them because instead of replying to their tricky question of what to do with the adulterous woman, he simply kept quiet and bent down, writing something on the ground. But when they insisted on asking Christ, he stood up and told them who has not committed any sin, may cast the first stone.

At that, they started to go away until none was left. And so when Christ noticed this, he asked the woman if anyone has condemned her. When the woman said, “No one,” Christ simply said, “Neither will I condemn you. You may go, but sin no more.”

This episode somehow tells us that we should not be too fastidious about the sins and mistakes of people, especially if these sins and mistakes don’t involve so much external harm or damage on others as to significantly disturb public order.

When mistakes and sins are hidden or are supposed to be hidden, our attitude should be to just be let the sinners be. What we have to do instead is to pray and to do whatever we can to help the person involved toward his own conversion. Dragging them to public notice will only make things worse and is often motivated by some self-interest. This way, we also avoid scandals that would unnecessarily stain others in some way.

We need to follow the example of Christ who, being God and our redeemer, must be the first one to be offended by the sin of the adulterous woman. If he, being sinless, could manage to be merciful and magnanimous, who are we to be any less?

We know very well that we are all sinners. We have far less reasons, or no reason at all, to find fault in others because of their mistakes and sins. Ours is simply to help one another.

That is simply because at the end of the day we are all brothers and sisters, all children of God, meant and bound to love and help one another. This is a fundamental truth that cannot be erased by whatever mistakes and sins that we commit. If God could love us even more because of our sinfulness, who are we to refuse that love to the others who may have fallen into sin?

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