Today’s Gospel is very difficult to hear, if we listen carefully, because some men of God try to kill a woman. Some Pharisees, who would have been respected as we respect pastors and theologians, drag a woman caught in adultery to Jesus. Apparently they had followed a woman—probably a poor prostitute—and watched her hooking up with a customer. Not accusing the man, they jumped out to force this woman before Jesus; they used her to trap Jesus. They were using the law as a sledgehammer to bash this unfortunate sinful woman, and to bash sinless Lord Jesus. These two are thrown together, and unbelievably, they understand each other. Jesus wants to give the mercy she needs, and she gratefully receives the mercy he thirsts to give. The accusers, however, do not ask and so do not receive mercy. The woman, abased, humbly awaits Jesus’ decision, whereas the Pharisees grudgingly drop their stones, but keep their hatred, only now transferring it to Jesus. They have come for blood, and they will get it. Jesus will die in that woman’s place. In absolving her, Jesus makes her capable of receiving the real love she had never known from a man.
This drama plays out several times a day in our parish. Every time someone goes to confession, he or she kneels before the Lord humbling awaiting Christ’s sentence. And Our Lord does indeed judge the sinner, but only as worthy of mercy. He has come for our sins, and weeps that we will not give them to him (“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, if only you knew…”). The one thing Christ needs, however, is our presence in that confessional. God does uphold the law, for without right order we sink into demonic chaos. He does not condemn her, but he does tell her to sin no more. He doesn’t abrogate the law but makes us capable of keeping the law.
Go with Our Lady
So go to confession at least once before Easter. The woman in today’s gospel, after all, made her confession, albeit not under optimal circumstances. But the effect was the same—she received pardon and the grace to “avoid this sin.” Let’s not wait until someone accuses us, drags us under the public eye, before confessing our sins. The Church gives us the confessional to make it relatively painless. Ask Our Lady to go with you into the confessional, as crying children sometimes ask their mothers to go with them. You will not be condemned by Jesus, and you will escape the condemnation of men.