As for Jesus, he went to the Mount of Olives.
At daybreak Jesus appeared in the temple again. All the people came to him, and he sat down and began to teach them.
Then the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees brought in a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They made her stand in front of everyone. “Master,” they said, “this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now the Law of Moses orders that such women be stoned to death; but you, what do you say?” They said this to test Jesus, in order to have some charge against him.
Jesus bent down and started writing on the ground with his finger. And as they continued to ask him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who has no sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And he bent down, again, writing on the ground.
As a result of these words, they went away, one by one, starting with the elders, and Jesus was left alone, with the woman standing before him. Then Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go away and don’t sin again.”
In this reading we are presented with two contrasting attitudes—the cold-heartedness of the scribes and Pharisees and the compassion of Jesus. Not interested in hearing out the woman’s real story, the Pharisees were using her to trap Jesus. Taking advantage of the law against adultery that forbade women citizens to consort with or even look at other men besides their husbands, the Pharisees used the woman as collateral damage in pursuing their evil intention. In the absence of DNA tests, the law was to ensure that should a married woman get pregnant the child she was carrying was her husband’s. All the man had to do to accuse his wife of adultery, and to doubt the paternity of the child his wife was carrying. Jesus was aware of such injustice in the application of the law, with the woman suffering from the full brunt of the law, while the man went scot-free. His challenge to the Pharisees, beginning with the elders, is also his challenge to us: to look first into ourselves before we condemn others. What we condemn in others is what sometimes we do not like in ourselves. Can we forgive and accept ourselves as Jesus has?
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