Fifth Sunday of Lent

The Introduction 

What really happened to this woman? A group of men, scribes and Pharisees, bring a woman to Jesus. They claim to have caught the woman in the act of committing adultery. The accusation of adultery puts the woman at fault in the relationship – and at risk of being killed as punishment. The scribes and Pharisees push Jesus to agree with them: this woman should be stoned. But what about the woman’s point of view? We do not get the chance to hear the woman’s version of what happened. She’s gone down in biblical history as “the woman caught in adultery”. But what if another sin took place? What if the woman was actually the survivor of sexual harassment or abuse? What if the sinful actions were not committed by her, but by the other person – the man– caught in the act? As is often the case in such situations, the public will never know exactly what happened. Most abuse happens behind closed doors. Jesus knows there is more to the story. He does not immediately side with the men in power. Jesus recognises the dignity of this woman and does not condemn her. May we, too, not be so quick to condemn – and instead, be quick to listen.

Think of a person in your acquaintance or in the media whom you’ve judged harshly. What does your condemnation of that person teach you about the state of your own heart?

Take some time to do a thorough examination of conscience. Make a list of things you want to change about yourself. Spend some time in prayer, thanking God for the call to go higher.

The Scripture (John 8: 6-9) Dispute over Jesus’ testimony

Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: throw the stone”. Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt. Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest.

The Reflection

Years ago on a school camp that didn’t have a dress code, I made a boy turn his shirt inside out because it had a profanity on it. I told him not to wear the shirt again because it was inappropriate for school. That night the boy’s mother called me at home. Believe it or not, she was angry with me for prohibiting her son from wearing the shirt at the camp. After all, he had purchased it with his own money. My sarcasm almost broke loose. Instead, I was able to stay calm and ask, “Do you think a shirt with that word on it is appropriate for school?” Every time she wailed at me, I calmly asked a question. One of the most applicable lessons Jesus taught us was how to handle conflict without being abrasive or argumentative. He was verbally attacked again and again, yet he always remained calm. When the adulterous woman was going to be stoned, the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus by quoting the law of Moses. Jesus replied, “If any of you is without sin, let them be the first to throw a stone at her”. This is just one example of Jesus’ perfect way of handling conflict.

When dealing with angry people, we can follow Jesus’ example. Remaining calm rather than arguing has a better ending. An argumentative Christian does not represent Jesus.

The Commissioning

Glorious Creator, we will praise you!
Careful Nurturer, we will thank you!
Compassionate Friend, we will rely on you!
Generous Giver, we will follow your example!
Love without end, we will accept and share your love! Amen.

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