The evangelical episode of the woman caught in adultery “invites each of us to realise that we are sinners, and to let fall the stones of denigration, condemnation and gossiping that we sometimes want to hurl against others."
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Lent is an opportunity to ask God for forgiveness of our sins that "reconciles us and gives us peace,” said Pope Francis in connection with the evangelical episode in today's liturgy concerning the woman caught in adultery.
Speaking to 30,000 people present in St Peter's Square for the Angelus, Francis pointed out that in the episode of the woman caught in adultery (Jn 8:1-11), "two attitudes are opposed: that of the scribes and the Pharisees on the one hand, and that of Jesus on the other. The former want to condemn the woman because they consider themselves the guardians of the Law and of its faithful application. Jesus instead wants to save her because he embodies God’s mercy, which, by forgiving redeems and by reconciling, renews. So let's look at the event.
“As Jesus taught at the temple, the scribes and Pharisees brought him a woman caught in adultery; they placed her in the middle and asked Jesus if she must be stoned to death, as the Law of Moses prescribes. The Evangelist explains that they asked him the question "to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him” (Jn 8:6). See the wickedness of these people. One can assume that their purpose was that: a 'no' to stoning would have been a reason to accuse Jesus of disobeying the Law; a "yes", instead, [would have been a reason] to report him to Roman authorities, who had reserved sentencing for themselves and did not allow mob lynching. And Jesus had to answer.”
"Jesus’s interlocutors were closed in by the narrowness of legalism and wanted to lock up the Son of God in their perspective of judgment and condemnation. But He did not come into the world to judge and condemn, but rather to save and offer people a new life. How did Jesus react to this test? First of all, he remained silent for a while, and bent down to write on the ground with his finger, as if to remember that God is the only Lawgiver and Judge, who cast the law in the stone. Then he said: ‘Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her" (Jn 8:7).
“Thus, Jesus appealed to the conscience of those men: they felt themselves to be 'champions of justice', but He reminded them of their condition of sinful men, so that they cannot claim the right of life or death on a fellow human being. The Gospel says that at that point, one after the other, starting with the oldest - that is, the most experienced of their own miseries – they all left, giving up on stoning the woman. This scene invites each of us to realise that we are sinners, and to let fall the stones of denigration, condemnation and gossiping that we sometimes want to hurl against others. When we speak ill of others, we are like them."
"At the end only Jesus and the woman were left, there in the middle of ‘misery and mercy ", says St Augustine (In Joh 33.5). Jesus is the only one without fault, the only one who could throw the stone at her, but he does not do it because God takes ‘no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather [hopes] that they turn from their ways and live’ (Ez 33:11). And Jesus dismisses the woman with these beautiful words: ‘Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more’ (Jn 8:11). He opens a new path before her, created by mercy, a path that requires her commitment not to sin anymore. It is an invitation that applies to each of us. When Jesus forgives us, he always opens a new road.
“At this time of Lent we are called to acknowledge ourselves as sinners and to ask God for forgiveness. And forgiveness itself, whilst reconciling us and giving us peace, makes us start a renewed history. Every true conversion is aimed at a new future, at a new, beautiful life, free from sin, generous. Do not be afraid to ask for forgiveness from Jesus who opens a new path for us. May the Virgin Mary help us bear witness to all of God’s merciful love, who, in Jesus, forgives us and makes our existence anew, always offering us new possibilities.”