Homily for the fifth Sunday of Lent - Year C - Jn. 8:1-11


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple; all the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, 'Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?' This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him.


"Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, 'Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.' And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus looked up and said to her, 'Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?' She said, 'No one, Lord.' And Jesus said, 'Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.' "





Homily :


"Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple; all the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, 'Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?' This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him."


Jesus is the Son of God made Man. He is "the Word of Life" (1 Jn. 1:1), the living Word of the Father who sent his Son to proclaim to all men the Good News of Salvation. Jesus is "the Life" (Jn. 14:6), for the Word of the Father - that is, his Son - expresses all of the Life of God: always and forever, the Father gives his Son the Life, which is known to us as the "Word"! On the eve of his Passion, Jesus clearly taught this when he prayed to his Father in the following manner: "This is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." (Jn. 17:3)


Eternal life consists in "knowing God"! It is a knowledge of love, but a knowledge founded on an intellectual knowledge, a knowledge of reason: we love God and know him because we believe in him. "We know and believe the love God has for us," said Saint John (1 Jn. 4:16). The foundation of our love for God lies in our knowledge of God. This is why Jesus spent all of his public life teaching the people and preparing his disciples for their future mission as apostles. "Early in the morning he came again to the temple; all the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them." (Jn. 8:2)


So if the devil and those who are in his employ, in this case the scribes and Pharisees, want to do everything possible to cause the loss of souls, then it is on the level of knowledge and teaching that they must first operate. "This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him." (Jn. 8:6) The scribes and Pharisees will try to perturb the teaching of the Master by opposing to it the Law of Moses: "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such." (Jn. 8:4-5)


The scribes and Pharisees, and the devil who is behind them, go to great lengths in their opposition to Jesus. They even say to him: "And you, what do you say?" By doing so, they are trying to make Jesus turn away from his proper mission. For Jesus is there, among them, not to judge the words of man, but to witness to the Word of the Father whom he is in person: "The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works." (Jn. 14:10)


"Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, 'Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.' And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him."


If the Spirit does not give it life, a written word is a word of death, and not a word of life. This is why Jesus never wrote anything, he who is the Word of Life. Even what he wrote on the sand is not his own Word, for on sand one cannot establish anything stable or solid, and that would be completely contrary to the Word of God, which is immutable and eternal. So if Jesus wrote something on the sand, it could only be words of man, but words of man which are words of death, and thus, words which express nothing other than the sins of those who were present there, setting a trap for he who wants to save them, at any cost, from eternal death... Ashamed of seeing their sins revealed in this way, these men of the words of death withdrew, leaving Jesus alone with the woman who had been surprised in adultery. "But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him."


"Jesus looked up and said to her, 'Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?' She said, 'No one, Lord.' And Jesus said, 'Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.' "


Those who shouted for justice and demanded a condign punishment for this adulteress were themselves filled with injustice and sin. This is not uncommon... How often have we not acted in a similar way? How many judicial enquiries and lawsuits are carried out each year in order to punish those who, for example, have stolen from public funds? Are the judges themselves and the whole legal apparatus pure? Does it render justice with mercy? Of course, we need human justice, imperfect though it may be. But what a scandal it is to see a State, no matter which, claiming to render equitable justice, when it respects neither natural law nor the rights of God! But this happens, alas! It is an evil which we must tolerate, because we must still remain subject to the laws of the State, or else the injustice would be even greater, through our own fault...


May the Lord Jesus show us his tender compassion and his immense mercy, as he did to the adulteress! Let us ask Mary, the Most Holy Mother of God, to teach us the way of true justice and endless mercy! Through Mary, may the Bread of Life be our strength and our light, in order that we might enter into the Kingdom of Peace, Love and eternal Justice!



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