by Tinnah dela Rosa
No one is spared from the snares of sin, not even righteous people. We all sin, just like this woman caught in adultery and the crowds that sinned because they judged the woman without mercy. We all fall short of the glory of God.
As we reflect on sin, we also come to realize that it is a product of our free choice and an inauthentic exercise of our freedom. It begins with an act which, knowingly or not, rejects God’s love, our own true selves and others. It is turning away from God Who is our ultimate destiny and greatest good.
Yet despite this repeated rejection of God, He continues to shower His compassionate love on us. Rather than focus our attention on the woman or the crowd, let us fix our gaze on Jesus. What can we learn from His very attitude, words and actions in this gospel?
Jesus did not respond immediately and remained silent after the accusations of the crowd. By doing this, Jesus invites the woman and the crowd to self-reflect. That pause allowed room for everyone to consider the situation at hand.
The crowds were there to test Jesus. Aware of His love and mercy for sinners, they wanted to see how Jesus would respond since His teaching on God’s Divine Mercy seems to contradict the Mosaic Law. Jesus addresses the crowd’s concerns about the woman by saying, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” This statement made the crowd leave one after another, for none of them were spotless after all.
Jesus extended God’s loving compassion to the woman when he said, “Neither do I condemn you.” By not condemning her, Jesus shows how He understands the ultimate dignity of the sinful woman. Despite having committed adultery, the woman is more than her sin. The terrible mistake she made does not define her. Finally, Jesus who offers new life also invited her to leave her sinful past behind to renew her life.
As we take an unadulterated gaze at Jesus, we can take home a few points:
- Jesus invites us to pause. When faced with difficult situations, could you take a few moments to reflect on what God’s invitation might be before you speak or act? Where in your life are you invited to pause?
- Jesus challenges us to examine our own faithfulness. The provocative statement: “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her,” is a clear invitation for all of us today to look within and examine what might be ‘adulterous’ in us. What are your infidelities before God? How do you put your own need for the pleasures of the world ahead of God’s will? Where in your life are you called to greater faithfulness?
- Jesus sees past our sins, recognizes our true dignity, and shows us God’s loving compassion. Our sinfulness does not define who we are and who we can become if we allow the grace of God to transform us. Do you define who you are by what you do or do not do, by your sin or your righteousness? How are you called to show mercy to others in your life?
- Jesus challenges us to transform our lives. How is Jesus’ invitation to “sin no more” an invitation to you as well? What “unfaithfulness” to him or to others does He invite you to leave behind? Where in your life are you called to be reformed, reconciled or renewed?
In whatever situation of unfaithfulness we find ourselves in, we have the choice to open ourselves to conversion and seek forgiveness for our sins. We do not have to wait for the time when our sins are exposed to be reconciled. Jesus awaits our return to him and gently nudges our consciences and our hearts. Can we be open to the transformative and healing power of Jesus to “sin no more”?
May this season of Lent help us to fix our gaze on Jesus and his compassion to truly bring forth in us the desire and ability to transform our life and our choices. May we learn to truly be faithful to God in our relationship with Him and the people He has given for us to love.