Father George Okoye, H.P. St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church
I was highly moved on Jesus’s attitude to the woman caught in committing adultery in the gospel of John chapter 8, especially when this came up in the Catholic liturgy during the Lenten season this year, when we are preparing for the celebration of the Lord’s passion, death and resurrection.
I think the climax of this passage was when Jesus asked this woman, did any one condemn you? She answered no one, Sir!
When the people reported to Jesus that this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery and that, according to their law, she deserved to be stoned to death, He bent down and started to write on the ground.
WWhat was Jesus writing?
I think this is very important question for all. He did not only write down something but He challenged them with these words: “If any of you here is without sin, let him or her be the first to cast stone to her.”
And He continued to write on the ground.
What is it that Jesus was writing? Jesus was writing out the inner life of all those present. He was pointing out the place they were vulnerable just like that woman standing before them. He was writing out their need for mercy and forgiveness.
As each of them looked on the ground and saw their life, their inner self, their weakness, their sins, they started to depart starting from the eldest to the youngest.
Then Jesus looked up to the woman with the eyes of mercy and revealed to her the God’s heart of mercy and forgiveness by saying to her: “Since no one condemned you, neither do I, but go and do not sin again”.
Hence, He invited the woman to acknowledge the wrong committed while on the other hand showed her the forgiveness and love of God.
I think we have to look on the ground always to see our own faults and weakness before picking up stone to cast on others. The act of forgiveness is disappearing among us today in our communities because we believe we are perfect and better than the other person.
We need to have time to look inside our life and see the place that we are not perfect and need the mercy and forgiveness of God.
Jesus gave us one of the conditions to receive God’s forgiveness while teaching His disciples how to pray. He invited us to ask God’s forgiveness as we have forgiven others.
“Forgive us or sins/trespasses/debts as we have forgiven those who sinned or trespassed against us.” It means that amount and quality of my forgiveness is what I am asking from God whenever I ask for forgiveness.
If it is hard for us to forgive, it will be hard for us to be willing to receive forgiveness from God.
Let us first open ourselves to forgive each other. We cannot communicate with God if we do not communicate with one another.
If we are thinking of being close to God, we have to start with meeting each other in love and with forgiving heart. We have to learn the great lesson of forgiveness and open our hearts to understand others. Give them another chance like Jesus Christ to go and do not hurt us in the same way. We have to accept their apologies and generously offer our own to them.
Let us offer each other the look of love, mercy and forgiveness that Jesus gave this woman in the gospel.
Love must be expressed in mercy and forgiveness!