Fifth Sunday of Lent, 7th April

John 8:1–11

Early in the morning he came again to the
temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. The
scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and
making her stand before all of them, 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. Now what do you say?' They said this to test him, so
that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and
wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he
straightened up and said to them, 'Let anyone among you who is without sin be
the first to throw a stone at her.' And once again he bent down and wrote on
the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the
elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus
straightened up and said to her, 'Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned
you?' She said, 'No one, sir.' And Jesus said, 'Neither do I condemn you. Go
your way, and from now on do not sin again.'


This story of adulteress is inspiring about
God’s divine mercy and forgiveness. This incident of the merciful forgiveness
of an adulteress by the Son of God has many lessons for all of us in this
season of Lent as it was in AD 30.

We are all sinners in greater or lesser
degree. We all offend the good God in many ways. However, thank God, we are not
dealing with the Scribes and Pharisees as our judges, but with a God of mercy,
a God who knows and understands our weaknesses and frailties. No matter how
many and how serious our sins may have been, no matter how low we may have
fallen, the mercy and forgiveness of God is ever there for the asking.

But ask we must and repent we must, for not
even the omnipotent and all merciful God can take away from us the sin we want
to keep. Who could be so foolish as not to accept the divine offer of mercy?
Who could ever let his personal pride and selfishness put his own eternal
happiness in jeopardy? There are probably people in hell, but if there are, it
is not because of their sins that they are there. It is rather because they
were too proud and too selfish to repent of them and ask God for his

Another lesson for all of us in today’s
gospel is that we should try to imitate our divine Lord’s mercy by being more
merciful and more compassionate towards sinners. Too many of us are inclined to
judge too harshly and heartlessly the neighbour whose sins happen to become
public, whilst we minimize our own failings because they are secret.

Remember: “Let anyone among you who is
without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Spreading scandal may, and
often is, a more grievous sin than the fall of a neighbour which we tell about
with gusto whilst pretending to be seriously disgusted with his moral failing.

Whilst we must hate sin in ourselves and
others we must learn from our Lord to love the sinner even while disapproving
of the sin. This love will be proved in part by our silence regarding his sin.