Sunday, April 2, 2017

Drop the Stone

April 2, 2017

St. John tells the story of a woman dragged before Jesus in anticipation of his judgment upon her. It was a trap, ready to be sprung, and Jesus didn't hesitate. He took the bait, sprung the trap, and turned it on the woman's accusers. Plenty of preachers have expounded upon this text, delighting in how the religious leaders who thought they had him were silenced. The story is simple in its telling, but profound in its implications. The woman was caught - in the very act - of adultery. One has to wonder how that happened. According to Jewish law, both parties would have been guilty, but the man is never mentioned. Was she a pawn in a deliberate plot to bring Jesus down? Was she set up? We don't know, but we do know that everything was not as it seemed to be. This was no ordinary situation; it smells of a sting.

Whatever the intrigue, the religious leaders were focused on the sin, and intent on shaming the woman. Before we judge them too severely, we would do well to see ourselves in the story. I hate to admit it, but I tend to be judgmental. It is easy for me to see all the  ways people fail to measure up. It's no excuse, but perhaps part of the reason for that is how often I see myself failing to measure up. Painting someone else with a dark brush is one way to divert the attention from my own failures. Whatever the reason, being judgmental is never good. When I focus on someone's faults and failures, I am not seeing the person. Failure to see the person is a failure to take God's view of things. That failure never ends well.

Jesus of course, knew the sin, but he saw the woman. He also saw the sins of the religious leaders. His word to the woman was no different than his word to them: "Go, and sin no more." In neither case did he wink at sin. He instead acknowledged it, forgave it, and encouraged repentance. It's a good thing he did, because all of us are on one side or the other, accused or accusers. And all of us are in need of forgiveness. "Go, and sin no more" are Jesus' words for us, too. For me, it's time to drop my stone, walk away, and ponder his words.

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