CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 22 June 2019

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Fifth Sunday of Lent - God saves he does not condemn

A woman is caught … not while she was reciting the rosary! It is strange that the man was not caught. Aggression, violence, passion are unleashed always on the weakest; the strong always manage to escape from the law.
 
There always have been people obsessed by the fact that others committed sexual sins. How do you explain this fanaticism in the defence of public decency? Are these moralisers really innocent and pure? Why do they enjoy putting in public the sins of others? Maybe these are people who would like to do the same things, but, not being able to, they attacked viciously whoever is caught doing it. These moral vigilantes drag the woman to the temple yard where Jesus was. With a smile full of innuendo, they ask him: “Master, the law orders that such women be stoned to death, what do you say?”
 
Jesus does not respond. He bends down and begins to write on the ground. What does he write? St. Jerome suggested that he might have written the sins of the accusers. However, it is more reasonable to think that he was, according to the Semitic custom, scribbling on the ground to control the irritation with someone who asks absurd or provocative questions.
 
Jesus could get out of trouble in a very simple way: by inviting the accusers to address the legitimate judges of the Sanhedrin who were not more than a hundred meters away. But this would mean abandoning the woman to the mercy of “the defenders of public morality” who now consider her as a trophy, a prey. 
 
Instead, he raises his head and says: “Let anyone among you who has no sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then he bends again and continues to draw lines on the ground.
 
The audience recognise their hypocrisy has been exposed. They move away, starting with the elders, the “priests”—says the Greek text. None remain except Jesus and the woman. 
 
Then, he looks at her with the tender gaze of God that does not condemn anyone. Jesus does not condemn. Does it mean that sin is a small thing? To behave well or badly does not matter? No! Sin is a very serious evil because it destroys the lives of those who commit it. 
 
Nobody hates sin more than Jesus because nobody loves people more than him. However, he does not condemn those who make mistakes (and he allows nobody to throw stones) in order not to add more evil to that which the sinner has already done.
 
This page of the Gospel today does not leave tranquil those who continue to claim the right, to hurl stones no longer with the hands, but defaming, isolating, uttering harsh judgments, fuelling distrust, spreading gossip. Jesus does not tolerate anyone who throws these painful and cruel stones against those who hold on with difficulty, bent under the weight of their own mistakes.
 
 
● Father Fernando Armellini SCJ
     Claretian Publications
     bibleclaret.org
     
Translated by Father John Ledesma SDB
Abridged by Father Jijo Kandamkulathy CMF