“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” – Mother Teresa
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Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. They said to him, “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?”
Women of Jesus’ time had no standing at all.
They were regarded as the property of men.
Chances are, even in the case of adultery, the woman in today’s scripture passage had little say in the matter.
Men had all the power.
Note that the woman here is being held responsible.
There is no mention of the man involved.
And somehow a “sexual sin” was elevated to a capital crime when other sins were not.
Jesus saw the blatant hypocrisy in these male accusers, disabling them with his famous line, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7).
As the men slowly dropped their stones and left, Jesus told the woman that he did not condemn her either, but added that she should not sin anymore (John 8:11).
Jesus could both hold her to a moral law and not condemn her!
His compassion undoubtedly transformed her life.
This lesson on tempering the strict enforcement of the law with compassion is so often overlooked by Christians today.
Just look at the desperate refugees looking for help at the U-S southern border.
We can also look at today’s scripture as a lesson on how men have wielded power over women for centuries.
In our time, we are finally seeing women being recognized more and more as equal to men although we still have a long way to go.
Many times men, especially white men in our culture, still do not see the power differential.
Hate crimes against Blacks, Asians, as well as LGBTQ people are also a testament against our openness to love “the other.”
How different the world would be if people actually followed Jesus’ basic and most fundamental teaching: to love God with all your heart, soul and mind as well as to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40)!
The profound truth is, as Thomas Merton put it, “We are already one. But we imagine that we are not. What we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are.”
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Remember: God loves you!