Introduction: The text of John 8:1-11, shows us all without any distinction or discrimination the unlimited Compassion, Mercy and Love of God through his Son Jesus who has come not to condemn the world but to save it (Jn 3:17). The passage of the adulterous woman in John’s gospel will help us to understand God’s faithfulness to the people of Israel throughout the history of salvation as well as the unfaithfulness of his people including us.
God of Mercy and Compassion
Grant us to see
Through your faithful Love
Our infidelities and wayward lives
So that we turn to you
To ask your forgiveness and healing
And live like your true sons and daughters.
‘Lectio Divina ’
- Read the text John 8:1-11 read the text slowly and listen attentively with the ‘ear of your heart’. What word, sentence or phrase stands out for you?
- Reflect: read the text again and pay attention of what touches you; why is it meaningful for you. What thought or reflection comes to you.
- Respond: read the text again but this time respond spontaneously to the word of God. In other words, make a dialogue with God what comes from within you. What gift does this text lead you to ask for from the Lord?
- Stay with the Word: read the text a final time and rest in the word. Allow God to speak to you in deep silence. Don’t say anything just listen to God’s words. What is He saying?
- Take now the word, sentence or phase, into your daily life/activity; allow it to become part of you. Always listen to it, reflect on it, pray over it and rest on it as time allows during the day. Then allow the Word lead you action.
Conclude your ‘Lectio Divina’ with the ‘Our Father’…
Reflection:. The two encounters, the Jews and the adulterous woman with Jesus, is an encounter with the past and the present life-history. The people of Israel are represented by the Jews who held the Law of Moses but who did not live faithfully to God and who saw their own infidelities as they encounter Jesus who spoke to them the truth. The story of the adulterous woman is the story of us all, in her we see our own infidelities towards God. Jesus did not asked the woman if she kept or not the law or how, when, where and with whom she committed the sin she was accused of, but he instead forgave her and told her ‘to go and sin no more’.
Central Message: …”Has no one condemned you?” ‘No one, sir,’ she replied. ‘Neither do I condemn you,’ said Jesus. ‘Go away, and from this moment sin no more.’
a) “The Scribes and Pharisees brought a woman along who had been caught committing adultery”. The Scribes and the Pharisees intended to put a trap to Jesus in order to find a reason to accuse him and be sentenced to death. Pretending to keep the law faithfully they used the woman in order to have an argument to accuse him. We may ask ourselves what kind of thought was that? They planned two kill not only one person but two. Is that what God wanted? “For I want Mercy, not sacrifice”. For I have not come to call the righteous but sinners.” (Mtt 9:13). It was clear that the Scribes and Pharisees were putting the law above God and people.
b) Putting the woman in the middle was a significant occurrence because not only served to ridicule the woman but to make her feel ashamed. To everybody’s surprise she actually could also have been a reflection of everybody’s infidelity and unfaithfulness to God. The Scribes and the Pharisees saw in her all their infidelities, past and present, like how many times the people of Israel broke the law and were unfaithful to God by adoring other gods and refusing to accept his mercy and faithful love. We too can mirror ourselves in her and see in us our infidelities and unfaithfulness to God choosing idles and replacing them for God.
c) ‘Jesus did not fall into any provocation, instead of discussing the law with the Scribes and Pharisees he bend down and starts writing on the floor. What he wrote we don’t know but what is certain is that his words ‘are spirit and they are life’ (Jn 6:63). Then Jesus rises and spikes his words challenging them: “Let the one among you who is guiltless be the first to throw a stone at her!” Here Jesus turned around the judgement made by the Scribes and Pharisees, from being the accusers they became the accused and condemned themselves by their own law. Instead, the accused became redeemed and forgiven by Jesus’ law of compassion, mercy love. He did not ask her when, how, with whom she committed her sin, but he only thing he said to her ‘neither I condemn you, go and sin no more.’ She not only recovered her dignity but she got the grace to strengthen her to remain faithful to the merciful love of God.
Some questions for our reflexion:
- If you look at the adulterous woman what can you see in yourself? What are your infidelities that separate you from God?
- What does the words of Jesus ‘go and sin no more’ mean for you? What do they imply for your life?