A Reflection for the Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Today, we hear a story in which the Pharisees, in a ploy to trap Jesus, grab a woman in the very act of committing adultery and throw her in front of the crowd Jesus is teaching.
Standing naked of both clothes and dignity, I can only imagine the fear and shame enveloping her. This woman’s life is on the line—the Pharisees already hold the rocks with which they plan to stone her. But then, Jesus, in his gentle way, tells the people, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” They gradually drop their rocks and leave, until the crowd is completely dispersed and “[Jesus] [i]s left alone with the woman before him.”
This story beautifully illustrates that in the end, it’s just us and Jesus. It reminds me of the last line in “Do it Anyway,” a prayer Mother Teresa was fond of: “For you see, in the end, it is between you and God—it was never between you and them anyway.”
On our Judgement Day, we will not be asked to list mitigating circumstances or justifications for our sin—Jesus doesn’t grade on a curve. Instead, we will be completely vulnerable in front of him.
We have to decide which voice we are going to listen to on our journey: that of the world, or that of Jesus Christ. Like the woman in this story, we might find ourselves in a game of tug-of-war between these voices. But, unlike the world, Jesus offers something truly satisfying: forgiveness and hope. He calls each of us to holiness and invites us to walk the walk with him. Jesus tells the woman, and us, “Go and from now on sin no more.” Jesus doesn’t care about our past nearly as much as he has hope for our present and our future. In his eyes, we are so much more than our sin and shame. Even at our most vulnerable, when we are most naked, he sees promise that we fail to see in ourselves. Though it takes courage, we are called to block out the destructive voices of the world and look to Jesus. He will take care of the earthly noise if we keep our gaze fixed upon him. Jesus offers the woman in today’s gospel not only another day to be alive, but an opportunity to truly live—and live in him. May we let the Grace of Jesus give us, too, new life.