Monday 5th week of Lent

(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 any more.”

Laws are crafted to safeguard the well-being of individuals and society at large. It brings in order and guides all on what to do and what not to do to maintain the stability of society. This is fine as long as the interpreters and enforcers of the law have a clean heart. In the hands of those whose heart are hardened and devoid of love, the law is the fearsome weapon. Just as the Teachers of the Law and the Pharisees used the Mosaic Law not only to humiliate and punish the woman caught in adultery, but to trap Jesus as well, so do their modern counterparts seek to use the law to their own perverse advantage. Without a loving heart, the law is a despicable oppressor rather than the refuge of the weak and the disadvantaged. So instead of judging the adulterous woman, Jesus asked the people who were eager to punish her with death to judge themselves by asking them whether they themselves were pure in front of the law. This radically changed the situation. Those who were eager to condemn becomes part of the condemned humanity. Slowly they walked away. We regain our human consciousness once we put ourselves as part of humanity and not above it.

Fr. Paulson V. Veliyannoor, CMF


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