5th Sunday Lent C –  Father Forgive Them                                                                                                                                                               

 The well-known story of the woman accused of adultery and taken to Jesus for judgement reveals to us, like last week’s story of the man with two sons, the depths and mystery of God’s forgiveness. “In the Mediterranean world the key figure in adultery is the wife (the married woman), and the key issue is the loss of honour, or shame for the husband” – J. Pilch, “The Cultural World of Jesus”, Vol 3, p.61. This Gospel is interesting in that the woman is said to have been caught in the act, but her accomplice appears to have escaped. And not a word about her husband. Had they been deliberately set up and trapped with a view to trapping Jesus so he could be brought to trial? If he urged the release of the woman he would violate the Mosaic Law and be viewed as a fake prophet. If he condemned her to be stoned he would be in big trouble with the Roman authorities who had only lately outlawed stoning among the Jews.

Jesus outwitted them by relaxing, doodling on the ground and, having got his second wind, challenged the consciences of her accusers. Like a lot of people from the countryside, Jesus paused, thought more deeply before speaking and then offered his interlocutors an opportunity to consider their own personal lives. To do a moral inventory of their lives was too much for them and they slunk away one by one. ‘Woman, has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, Sir’. ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go away, and do not sin anymore.’

Compassion for human frailty combined with a gentle challenge to a better life marked the words of Jesus. Her accusers self-righteously condemned the woman until Jesus put them in touch with their own sinfulness. It was a conversion moment for them and they turned away from their quest for the death of the woman. Awareness of our own fragility can help us be more understanding and compassionate to others, and be in touch with our common humanity.

Experience tells us that to err is human. There’s a mystery about forgiveness; it doesn’t come naturally nor depend on a person’s character. Like compassion and mercy, forgiveness is a question of an inner disposition that matures as we spend time with Christ. We are offered this Sunday in the second reading (Philippians 3: 8-14) a glimpse of how Paul came to experience Christ and the power of his resurrection. It came to him through the same Spirit that enabled Jesus, unconditionally loved and accepted by God, to forgive his crucifiers. Through the power of Christ’s resurrection may it be possible for us to forgive those who have harmed us.

Fr. QQ – 03/30/2022

Copyright © carmelitesisters.ie 2022. All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy | Design Credits