March 18, 2010
5th Sunday of Lent (C)
March 21, 2010
John 8: 1-11 “They went away one by one”
Three surprises may welcome you when you get to heaven: People whom you expect to be there are not there. People whom you think should not be there are there. And most of all, you are there.
Our gospel reminds us to be slow or not to judge others. While it is good for us to individually examine our own intentions and motivations in our actions, we should be extra careful when doing the same for others. Any judgment which is not based on the established facts, motivations and intentions is prone to error. Beware: Our emotions, biases and prejudices may lead us to hasty judgments. We might end up falsely accusing each other.
The Pharisees in our gospel angrily brought the “adulterous” woman to Jesus, hoping that he would condemn her to death by stoning. But Jesus knew their hideous intentions, said, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7) The Pharisees were caught in surprise for two reasons: First, nobody among them was blameless in God’s eyes. Second, in the Mosaic Law, only the principal witnesses have the right to cast the first stone. Nobody dared to throw the first stone because nobody saw the woman having an illicit affair. So they dropped the stone and left in shame.
Surprisingly, Jesus who has the right to judge spared her also. When everybody left, Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and from now on do not sin anymore.” (John 8:11) The guilty woman was ready to receive her due punishment. But it never came. Instead she received forgiveness and was encouraged not to sin again. God disposes mercy (not wrath) to remorseful and repentant sinner. When God thinks of us, He thinks of saving and giving us life, and not to condemn us to eternal death.
The Pharisees saw the sin of the woman. Hatred ruled their hearts. They wanted punishment. On the other hand, Jesus saw a person trapped in her own sin, begging for help and longing for forgiveness. And Jesus gave her what she wanted: Mercy. The mercy she received was enough for her to reform her life. Jesus came not to judge but to save, so “that we may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10).
In another confrontation with the Pharisees, they protested when Jesus dined with Matthew, a tax collector. “Why does your teacher eat with sinners?” (Matthew 9:11). But Jesus said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but the sinners.” (Matthew. 9:12-13). In deep gratitude, Matthew became an ardent disciple. Like Jesus, we should hate the sin but not the sinner.
I cannot forget the words of a death row prisoner in New Bilibid Prison who became a catechist for the prisoners, “Sa totoo lang Pads, wala naman akong planong magbago, pero nang makita kong meron pa ring nagmamahal sa aming mga bilanggo, tulad ninyong ng mga prison volunteers. Naisip ko...lalo na ang Diyos. Doon ako nagbago.”
This Lenten Season, let’s be slow or avoid judging others. We are all sinners. God alone has the right to judge for he knows what’s in our hearts. Throw those rocks away from your hands. We are capable of doing greater things than throwing rocks. Our hands should lead sinners back to the fold of God. Instead of throwing rocks, forgive, understand, and pray for sinners. This is what God wants from us: save sinners and give life.
“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
- Mother Theresa of Calcuta
-Fr.Willy M. Samson,SJ / Sacred Heart Jesuit Community, Los Gatos / March 18, 2010