April 3, 2022
Look, I am doing something new; it’s already sprouting, can’t you see?
Philippians 3, 8-14
I consider everything loss compared to the excellency of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
Saint John 8, 1-11
He got up and said to them: “He who is without sin, cast the first stone at him.”
Today’s gospel scene is impressive. The scribes and Pharisees present Jesus with a woman caught in adultery, a public sinner, so that he condemns her according to the law of Moses to be stoned to death; In reality, the one they want to condemn and remove from the midst is Jesus himself. The dense moment oozes violence and blood. The tension is maximum. And there is a great “train wreck”, of mentalities, of different ways of understanding God and what He wants from us.
Jesus does not condemn the woman. At the end he simply tells her: “Woman, where are your accusers?; Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “None, sir.” Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on sin no more”. Neither does Jesus condemn or recriminate those who had sinned with that woman, probably men present there; nor to all those who wanted to stone her. He simply disarmed the contention with that phrase that we should all say to ourselves when we judge and condemn others: “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.”
The image of Jesus writing on the ground says a lot. He leveled himself with that sinful woman who would probably have been beaten and dragged and would be lying, wounded and bloodied. He lowered himself to where she was. To speak with the accusers he stood up; to talk to her he leaned down again.
But what was Jesus writing with his finger on the ground? We can imagine it. Perhaps names, places, or signs to let the accusers know that he knew everything about everyone. Perhaps texts from the Law of Moses, quotes from the Old Testament, to highlight the biased interpretation they made of the Law of God, the manipulation of His Word, with which they subjugated humble and simple people. The fact is that, after a while of silence, lowered the tension, the gospel tells us that everyone slipped away, without complaining, without protesting, without accusing, starting with the oldest. Perhaps that is why the oldest of us are always the ones who have had the most time to sin and, therefore, the ones who have the most to thank God for his patience, his mercy and his compassion.
It is not correct to interpret the attitude of Jesus from goodism and relativism; Jesus does not devalue sin, he does not downplay our miseries, disobedience, injustice, crimes or misdemeanors, typified or not. Our personal or social, private or public sins lacerate us, destroy us, blur the image of God in each one of us. Jesus does not come to tell us that anything goes, that it does not matter what we do, but to cure and heal the wounds caused by sin. He comes to rebuild us, to free us, to save us. He healed the wounds of the soul of that poor sinful woman and probably also those of all his accusers, including his disciples and the people present there, oblivious to the fight. He wants to heal our wounds and he also tells us: “I don’t condemn you either. Go, and from now on sin no more”.
Jesus thus breaks with the judgmental and condemnatory position that we use so often, even in the name of God, to get rid of those who hinder us, do not think like us, have other approaches to life. Jesus appeals to the conscience of each one; before condemning, look at yourself, reflect, correct yourself, understand the other in his situation and put yourself in his place.
That is why, in the words of the prophet Isaiah, he has come to make all things new, to change our mentality, to rebuild our lives and our society, to restore our relationships. Perhaps in these days close to Easter, many of us will return to see the shocking and hyper-realistic film by Mel Gibson entitled “The Passion of the Christ”. I have always been very impressed by the scene in which he finds himself face to face with his mother, Maria, on the way to Calvary, and says to her: “Do you see, Mother, how I make all things new?” She did it and does it giving her life, bleeding for us.
When Paul of Tarsus goes from persecutor of Christians to follower of Christ, and realizes all this, he affirms full of passion: “I consider everything loss compared to the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord. For him I lost everything, and I consider everything rubbish in order to gain Christ and be found in Him.”
Losing your life for Christ in order to gain it: a challenge, a pattern of behavior, a mission that is always open.