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The Woman Caught in Adultery

Reflection on John 8:1-8

Gripping fear was the first emotion. If she hadn’t been pushed out into the street, she would not have been able to move at all. Then came the volcanic rage. Why was she taken and he left? What did these righteous men want with a nobody like her? Why couldn’t they just leave her alone in her sin? The Lord didn’t seem to care, whatever she did with her life. Why did they? But she was trapped, and making a scene would only draw more unwanted attention. Eventually, they dragged her to the Temple, the one place she had faithfully avoided, not daring even to walk in its shadow.


Rent between these two emotions—the terror of imminent death, fury toward those at whose unfeeling hands she would die—she found herself cast into the middle of a circle. Once again alone.


They were accusing her to this, this Rabbi. He looked at her, then crouched down and wrote in the dust.


She was captured by His gaze. Time halted; fear and anger fled. A blush rose in her cheeks. What was this compassion she saw, this tenderness and sadness and understanding? Suddenly, it seemed as if her sins stood before her. Her heart opened...just a crack. That little crack allowed sorrow to flood in.


He was speaking: “Let any one of you without sin be the first to cast a stone.” Perhaps she now would be dragged out of the city. Maybe, even, she was getting what she deserved, but right now all she wanted was for Him to look at her again. Vaguely she realized that He was writing and the crowd dissipating. She couldn’t move.


Then He looked up. There it was, that same loving gaze. Tears tumbled down her cheeks. “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”


“No one sir,” came her trembling response.


Looking steadily into her eyes, He said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”

I don’t know if you have ever felt like your sins were surrounding you and accusing you. Certainly the Enemy takes advantage of our weakness at times to make us feel unworthy even of forgiveness. It is a ploy. The Lord wants, he desires, to be close to us. With but a few words He dismissed the woman’s accusers. With but a few words He dismisses (absolves) our sins. All we have to do is bring them to Him in confession.


Sometimes there are other accusers, though. There are, perhaps, the things you don’t like about yourself or the ways you don’t feel good enough, or worthy. Maybe you carry shame or self-hatred because of the words or actions of other people. They can ring us round, too. The Enemy has a hey-day with this type of thing.


If you ever feel like this, accused, picture yourself in place of the woman in this Gospel passage. What might Jesus write on the ground or say to your accusers? Not good enough? You are my beloved. Not worthy? I have chosen you. You are Mine…


Every accusation, every lie, He can dispel with His truth. And the truth is that He loves you. Let Him, then, dismiss the lies, and when just you and He remain, call to mind the words He says a little later to His disciples. Remain in Me. As the Father loves Me, so I also love you. Remain in My love.


Sr. Cecilia, CFR

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