John 8: 1-11
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple; all the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?" This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus looked up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again."
Questions for Reflection and/or Discussion
Adultery is sex outside of marriage: aka premarital sex, homosexual sex, extramarital affairs. Our culture has forgotten this word. Most of our society has abandoned the Biblical principle that adultery is wrong. They just ignore it. Just look at television dramas and sitcoms for proof. Sex outside of marriage is any sexual act outside of the confines of a Christian marriage, and it is wrong. Jesus and the scribes and Pharisees all agree on this point. Do I have any doubts that adultery is a sin? Have I committed this sin? If so, have I confessed it and received absolution? Have I condoned this sin? Have I ignored it and looked the other way, or have I made clear that I believe it is wrong, despite our culture of casual sex?
What Jesus and the Pharisees do not agree on in this passage is what should be the punishment for adultery. The Law of Moses was given to man, because humanity fell in the Garden of Eden. Man could no longer understand the Truth of God’s creation and therefore needed prescriptive laws to identify right, wrong, and the consequences of sin. We were seeing through fuzzy glasses of a sort. But when Jesus came, He brought the light. He restored the fullness of the Truth through His life, death, and resurrection. Most importantly, He reminded us that it is God alone who judges, not man. How quick am I to judge others?
Especially in our culture of casual sex, where hooking up is common in middle schools, do I cast stones at those who commit the sin of adultery or do I see through God’s wisdom with compassionate eyes? Do I have friends or family members who are cohabiting or sexually active? How do I look at them? Do I fault them for their sins? Do I pray for their repentance? Do I seek ways to show them the Truth in word and example?
The woman in this passage recognizes her sin. She knows she has done wrong, and I posture that many people caught in the sin of adultery know in their heart and their mind that they have done wrong. Nevertheless, they are caught in the trap of temptation, and others either ignore their sins or view them with disdain. Jesus does not condemn them; He begs them not to sin again. Do I do the same? A holy priest I know will not marry a couple if they are cohabiting, because he sincerely believes this shows they are immature and not prepared for the sacrament of matrimony. Not all of our priests are this courageous. How can I speak the truth in love to someone I know in the sin of adultery? How can I teach this Truth to my children and help them to avoid such sin?
No! It is a sin! God does not want it! ~ St. Maria Goretti