Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent
The forgiveness heals
Jesus …early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them. 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?” They said this to test him, so …Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, (and) from now on do not sin anymore.” Jn 8,1-11
Today, Jesus is seated and he is preaching to the crowd. We do not know the subject of his teaching, but the development of the events leads us to believe that he is talking about the “mercy” and the “forgiveness”. In fact, there is a key word in this passage, which binds the content of his speech to the test to which he is submitted by the scribes and pharisees. It is the word “then”: “Then they brought a woman caught in adultery ” …”Teacher – they say to him – 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 think?”. Jesus is in the difficult situation of evading the law or of refusing by facts what he is teaching. He could have taken the ball to announce that, with the advent of the messianic times, the law of Moses became obsolete and it was superseded by that of the love, of the mercy and of the forgiveness, but he would have cast pearls before swine without resolving the situation of the moment. He decides, then, to continue to talk about the mercy and the forgiveness, as also the scribes and the pharisees are sinners and need to be forgiven: “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her”. Then, one by one, they all go and Jesus is the only one with the woman, as he was left alone with the samaritan woman at the well and with the blind man at the pool of Siloam. When Jesus encounters alone, “face to face” with a person, wonderful things always happen and so it happens with the adulteress: “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”. The woman, then, conscious of having been forgiven, captures the truth that Jesus is the Lord of mercy and answers: “No one, sir”. And Jesus said to her: “Neither do I condemn you. Go, (and) from now on do not sin any more”. It is not a suggestion, it is an order as that one of the resurrection of Lazarus: “Lazarus, come out” (Jn 11,43). It is a healing. The forgiveness is always a recovery from any mental and spiritual illness.