We are all sinners. This is our human condition. What is striking about today’s gospel passage from John is how Jesus refuses to allow the Pharisees to point out the sinful actions of the adulteress while downplaying their own sins. Don’t we do the same thing? Don’t we convince ourselves that our sins are trivial in comparison to the sins of those around us?
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 that they could have some charge to bring against him.
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 any more.”
Jesus had compassion for the woman caught in adultery not because her sin wasn’t a serious matter. He had compassion for her because he knew that by offering her forgiveness it would provide her with a chance to reform her life. He made that clear when he instructed her to go and sin no more.
Our sins are forgiven every time that we avail ourselves of God’s grace in the sacrament of reconciliation. Are we willing to change our lives in response? Will we return to our sinful ways, or will earnestly desire to go and sin no more?