The story of the adulterous woman is always a good chance to reflect on during Lenten time. It shows the general reaction towards a guilty person, today as in the past, since condemnation has always been a natural attitude of mankind (‘man is for other men a wolf’ quotes the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes in the XVII century!).
In our society we are always ready to wave the stick and point our finger at others (who are the bad ones!) or in other words “to take the speck out of our neighbor’s eyes.”
In this story instead Jesus warns us to look interiorly or…”to take the log out of our own eye!” In fact, this is not a story of condemnation but a story of salvation (if we just want it!).
Jesus is there, in Jerusalem, teaching in the Temple only few days before his sacrificial death. He knows that he is in danger, surrounded by enemies, but he does not go back to Galilee in safety. He wants to remain there because His aim is to offer the opportunity of salvation to the many that come to listen to Him, including also His enemies. He has come to save the just and the guilty ones.
The Scribes and the Pharisees, in accord with the Romans, had the responsibility to maintain stability in their society and saw Jesus as a threat to this stability. They only wanted to discredit him in front of His followers and found the woman taken in adultery a good way to trap Him.
When He straightens up and exclaims those famous words that shaped so much of the Christian thought, “let the one among you is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” the executioners slink away, leaving him alone with the woman.
Only when He remains alone with her is the perfect relationship created. He goes on and absolves her from her sin, recognizing that she indeed did wrong but that salvation is possible by changing her life and sinning no more. To use the vernacular He said: “come on, you have been lucky this time, but you must cease your sinful behavior!”
Yes, the message was directed to the unnamed woman but also to each of us!
It is hard to quit with our repeated sins, isn’t it? Sometimes we even get bored with them and try to throw everything behind, reducing them to the simplified name of “bad habits”…and each Lent maybe we are ready to put those bad habits on top of our list of renunciation between the abstention from our daily delights (how much I am missing my black and aromatic espresso coffee!!) and the proposal to make at least a good deed a day!
In his very first Angelus last year, by this same time, Pope Francis exhorted everybody to be able to name our sins (supposing that we first recognize them as sins!) and to repent in order to seek for the absolution and change our life.
Our God is an unceasingly merciful Father. He never gets bored of hearing that we want to be saved and forgiven. It is we who get bored asking for forgiveness. We only need to find the connecting bridge towards Him. That’s why we should remain close to Christ, His beloved Son, who did not abandon the Temple of Jerusalem, even when He knew He was in danger, in the hope that He could spread the Word to as many people as possible.
When I, for some reason, turn away from Jesus I always fall in my old habit of vainly seeking satisfaction in human things: feelings, culture, intellect, sport, personal success and job or in other people.
But none of these things really give me peace. Only when I turn again to Jesus, in prayer, hopefully in front of the Blessed Sacrament in a chapel or, more often in the silence of a family room (after having glued the kids to the TV!), I am really healed and given back to my dignity, feeling a renewed heart and ready to start again the journey.
My prayer for today will be to ask God the grace to do good and avoid evil and to be constantly cleansed of my faults and also to show forgiveness and compassion for anyone on my path and be the Church that Jesus hoped to build.
–Maria Soggiu had always been in love with philosophy and intellectualism of any kind until the moment Christ knocked at her door eight years ago. From that moment her life could not be the same anymore and she finally found her intellectual –rather– spiritual peace. Ps. She is fond of black coffee!