Readings: Isaiah 43:16-21; Philippians 3:8-14; John 8:1-11
Today’s Gospel is very beautiful, very challenging but emerges from a sinister background before the narrative begins.
I’m ready to concede that these scribes and Pharisees are upright, uptight men and not hypocrites. But if they were able to catch this woman in the act of adultery, how long have they been stalking her? They had to know who came and went from her house and when her husband would be away.
I could believe that they were horrified by adultery, but wasn’t there something twisted about their obsession with her conduct?
As pure as their personal behavior might be, doesn’t this exaggerated curiosity betray an unintegrated sexuality? What kind of moral environment do they cultivate, failing to own their own desires but projecting all that on this unnamed, unknown woman?
As soon as you began to hear this Gospel read, I’m sure you knew the outcome. I don’t need to point out that Jesus is both merciful and challenging to this victimized woman: from now on do not sin anymore. That challenge is merciful. He’s telling her, from now on, don’t be a victim. You don’t have to be a victim to your vulnerabilities–that’s not the way to feel loved. You don’t have to do whatever he demands from you. Where is he, anyway? Is servitude to him any better than being your husband’s trophy bride?
But don’t miss what else has happened: They went away one by one, beginning with the elders. I never paid much attention to that, other than their departure removing any threat to this woman.
What did they feel? Some of them must have seen themselves for the first time. At least some one of them must have been pierced to the heart and recognized how pathetic he was.
The next Passover, how many of them could be shouting to Pilate, Crucify him?