I often wonder why the lectionary-makers repeat readings so quickly sometimes. We had this Gospel reading from John during the second week of Advent, and here it is again. This is a great account of Jesus' forgiving nature and power and perhaps that message cannot be heard enough, in particular as we approach the New Year.
We have Jesus being confronted by Jewish officials dragging with them a woman they claim was caught in the very act of adultery. For those with more prurient minds this is a very titillating story, but I don't think that is the point. They approach Jesus while he is teaching the crowds that gathered around him in the temple. As the scribes drag this unfortunate person in front of Jesus, he crouched on the ground and began writing in the dirt. I wonder what he was writing. I wonder if he was hoping they would go away. I wonder if he was pissed off at these scribes. I wonder if he was pissed off at this woman who was caught and at what she was caught doing. I wonder if Jesus was wondering, well, where is the man she was doing the adultery with? Why isn't he here too?
Jesus does his best to ignore them, but they pester on and he finally says to them that the one who is without sin should be the one to cast the first stone, and all disappear but the woman charged. Jesus could have ranted and raved: letting go of the frustrations that he must have felt at the arrogance of these officials, at their stupidity, at their malice toward him. He could have lectured and demeaned the woman who was brought before him. Jesus choose another direction: one of patience, one of calm reflection, one of allowing people to find their own answer to and path through difficult issues.
Who among us makes no mistakes? From where within us is our righteous indignation coming? Do we take the time to evaluate our actions, how we feel about a particular situation, before we act or react? These are some of the questions that come up for me from this Gospel passage today.
Copyright 2008, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.