“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.” - John 8:1-11
Reflecting upon today’s gospel, I am reminded of the following quote by Stephen R. Covey, “We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions.” This Lenten season invites us to surrender into the tenderness of God and cultivate a sense of dual awareness - being mindful of our own suffering, yet still being in communion with the suffering of others. We are asked to expand our notion of sins from simply breaking rules or commandments and examining the questions: What pain consists in the world because of me? How have I failed to notice or lacked action? How have I sought to change for the better? How wide can I stretch my heart?
In this story, I find myself relating to each character at one point in my life to a certain degree within the scope of emotions. There have been times where I felt remorse, shame, and despair like the adulteress as well as experiencing junctures of frustration, annoyance, and irritability similar to the Pharisees. However, Jesus encourages me to open my mind and see what it would look like for me to go the heart of the matter to discover love. He urges me to practice a virtue with each opportunity by getting the stethoscope to listen and genuinely assessing the heart of the person or situation.
Jesus’ encounter with the woman challenges us to live honestly and without sin. Most importantly, taking the steps like the woman to move on. By seeking compassion from our God of mercy, we allow ourselves to be gutted and open ourselves up to authentic human living. It can break barriers, expose what is hidden, and create a pathway for the relationships in our lives with a wide and inclusive heart.
Lord, help me to love and forgive ten times as magnanimous as you believe I am capable to do so in extending mercy to myself and others.