FR. MIKE’S HOMILY MONDAY OF THE 5TH WEEK OF LENT
THEME: GO AND SIN NO MORE
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
HOMILY: Jn 8:1-11
Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, [and] from now on do not sin anymore.”
The Pharisees and scribes took every opportunity to find fault in Jesus and accuse Him of any crime that will condemn Him to death. In many instances, He was accused of violating the Sabbath Law. Another instance was about the payment of taxes. The Gospel account today is another occasion to trap Jesus.
A woman was brought to Jesus. She was caught in the act of adultery. There is no question she was guilty as charged. According to the Law of Moses, the punishment for such a sin is death by stoning. There are three important issues here that Our Lord finds unacceptable.
First, there is injustice in this precept, particularly against women. Adultery only takes place with a partner. But it is the woman alone that is being penalized, while the partner goes free. It is very likely that this same person can go around flirting with other women because he knew he can commit adultery with impunity. He can look on with a glint of wickedness in his eyes as every woman he seduces is being stoned to death.
Secondly, the issue behind this incident was not about the woman’s sinfulness. It is clear as day that she was sinful. Rather, the Pharisees took this occasion as an opportunity to highlight their ‘righteousness’. They believed they were sinless, and all the rest, like this woman, are sinful. So, they have all the right to condemn others at every opportunity. They were too happy to publicize the failure of others for this makes them look even better to the people.
Finally, the Pharisees were not really after the imposition of the penalty on the woman. This is proven by the fact that in the end, they left her unharmed. Rather, they only used the woman as a pawn to trap Jesus. If He says she should be forgiven, then He is violating the Law; and, if he says she should be punished, then He contradicts his own teaching about mercy and compassion for the sinner.
But Jesus knows everything. He adroitly evades the trap set for Him and throws the ball back in their court. “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
They were all dumbfounded. They were embarrassed to realize their own sinfulness. Most likely they have also committed this same sin or worse at some time in their lives but they went unpunished because of this misogynous precept. Beginning with the eldest, they left one by one.
Since no one else condemned her, Jesus told her, “Neither do I condemn you.” But this does not mean He was condoning her sinful action and behavior. Sensing the true spirit of repentance in her, He admonished her with a strong warning, “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”
This admonition is addressed to us as well. In the Lord’s Prayer, we ask the Heavenly Father, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Humbly, we acknowledge that we, too, are sinful. Let us all be confident, though, that our loving Father has the same compassion towards us in our weakness and sinfulness. But we have to do our part: “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”
Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches