A Special Deepness from our Encounters with Jesus

04-03-2022Letters From Fr. BrianRev. Brian F. Manning

In this week’s Gospel, we are not surprised when we learn that Jesus is being again tested by people. From the high Temple authorities to the officials of government, to the villagers He meets and even His own people of his village, Jesus is constantly being tested and questioned. In this passage, in particular, we realize that He is being manipulated and setup. His foes take advantage of a woman and humiliate her to get at Jesus. The scribes and Pharisees should know better because of their religious upbringing and education, but it does not seem to matter. They perceive Jesus to be a threat to them; they think that to use that woman was inconsequential. In their opinion and treatment of her, she was dispensable.

The religious leaders make her private sin public, all for the sake of their precious argument. With all of them standing there outside the Temple, they ask a question that forces Jesus to spare the woman and thus deny the validity of their interpretation of the Law of Moses. This whole charade was to prove that Jesus was not what people thought He was. Many of them thought He was a miracle worker, the Messiah, a rabbi, or even just a rabble-rouser. No matter what, the religious leaders had decided that Jesus had to be dealt with quickly and forcibly.

Can you imagine Jesus looking at the scribes and Pharisees and then finally looking at the woman, as she, in turn, casts her eyes down to the ground? We can imagine the nervous crowd all waiting to hear and see what will happen next. We can imagine Jesus is biding his time.

The leaders give a graphic and crude description of the woman’s acts. We might suspect that Jesus and many people winced when they heard what the holy leaders said. Jesus along with many of us would also be wondering about the man caught in the act of adultery with her.

In this dramatic scene, the silence of Jesus is deafening. Jesus simply bends down to draw in the sand. The scribes and Pharisees keep talking and end up making colossal fools of themselves. Then Jesus stands tall and speaks: “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her”. How awesome and powerful are these words for them, and even to this day for us. Little by little, as the great truth of Jesus’ words dawns on them, the scribes and Pharisees slip away.

Then we hear the compassionate words of Jesus whereby He tells her no one has condemned her, nor will Jesus. Note that even the scribes and Pharisees did not condemn the woman. We do not know why they did not. Most importantly Jesus did not excuse her or dismiss her as of no account. He, instead, asked for her conversion. Then she, too, quietly went away.

We do not know the woman’s name or what happened to her after this great event. We do know that she received the mercy and compassion of God and was changed by it. We all live with the hope that life took a deep and wonderful existence for her because of her encounter with Jesus and Hs mercy. We should realize for ourselves that our encounters and time spent with Jesus can also give a special deepness to our daily life.