The WORD in Other Words by Fr Cornelio Alpuerto SVD (Philippines)
5th Sunday Lent
John 8, 1-11
Poor one! Yes, truly poor, this defenseless woman, who is now the people‘s center of attention at the temple precincts early in the morning. Then the Scribes and Pharisees tell Jesus, as if announcing for all to hear, ” 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?”
Caught in the very act of committing adultery.” What an abominable offense! So abominable in fact that in the law of Moses the commensurate penalty is death by stoning. Which would have been for the woman herself a lighter sanction than to be exposed to shame and degradation like this.
If the matter were left to her choice, instant death by stoning would have been more preferable. But why still take the trouble of this walk to the temple, to this man Jesus, and there to be dropped at his feet like a crumpled dirty rug for him to make clean the way he alone knew how?
Ah yes, because the Scribes and Pharisees were scheming to use her case as a trap to trip Jesus up. So they asked him, “What do you say?” If his answer would be to say, “Have mercy on her. Spare her.” they would say, “You are going clearly against the law of Moses.” And if he would say. “Go ahead. Stone her.” they would counter, “You are not as you present yourself to be after all, merciful. Either way, they would find fault with Jesus.
But his actual answer? “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And they went away one by one beginning with the elders. The scheming rascals! Perhaps, after all they also committed adultery without getting caught! Now, before the glaring light of Truth they had to retreat one by one in utter shame.