Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Casting the First Stone

The Woman taken in Adultery (1644)
REMBRANDT [1606 - 1669] - National Gallery

“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 any more.”

This Sunday's Gospel reading from John chapter 8 is, by some biblical scholars' estimation, lucky even to be included in the canonical New Testament. But the councils of the late fourth century were more than wise to include this pericope. The entirety [Jn 8, 1-11] shows the breadth and capacity of the mercy of the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ who, as Saint Augustine points out, is always revealing to us the nature of the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We recognize the crowd bringing the woman to Jesus. We know them like the back of our hand; we may even be implicated by similar scapegoating, self-righteous behavior. The same old same old. Yada, yada, yada.

But in Jesus we see goodness, forgiveness, grace for fresh starts, and a twinkle in the eye that does not, in turn, reject and scapegoat the scapegoaters, but rather offers One who stands with the victim in the tide of the onslaught of the unforgiven.

“Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

May each of us follow our divine Model, Master, Friend, and Savior -- Offer mercy and steadfast love [agape, hesed] this Lent. Make a friend. Be a friend. Bring a friend to Christ. Or sit with a friend at the feet of Christ and enjoy the "one thing needful" together. +

No comments: