One of the fears we have is that of being humiliated in public. The woman caught in the act was no exception. She feared not just the agony of embarrassment, but also the face of her impending death. Here is this woman, trembling with guilt and fear, wishing she could die. Her accusers stood around her, waiting for Jesus to give the verdict.

What she did was wrong. Adultery is always wrong. It destroys the moral fiber of our society, which is the family. Ann Landers had shared a letter once. It said, “Dear Ann, I have a problem. I am happily married to a wonderful wife and we have two children. I also have been seeing a young woman for the past 6 months. My problem is that I love both of them. What should I do? Signed, Confused. PS. Don’t give me any of that morality stuff. Ann Landers wrote back: Dear Confused. The only difference between animals and humans IS morality. I suggest you consult your local veterinarian.

Why did these men want to throw stones? The same reason that we want to throw them. We throw stones because we harbor hatred. We throw stones because we hold onto bitterness. We throw stones because we are entangled in anger. We throw stones because we want to have revenge. And we throw stones because we will not let go of the things that upset us.

We would never think of actually throwing stones at other people but far too often, there are emotional or spiritual stones thrown at others, especially those we love. With our hurtful comments, whenever we generalize, whenever we gossip, whenever we are harsh with the truth, we throw stones at people.

Whenever we pass judgment on people, we throw stones at them. Whenever we are against those who do not share the same opinion, the same thinking, the same color or sometimes the same belief as we have, we throw stones at them.

When they were about ready to throw those stones, Jesus bent down to write something on the ground. And He spoke, “If that’s what the law said. Go ahead and stone her. Just remember one thing. Let the man without sin go first.” Then, he went back to writing on the ground.

Jesus was making them aware that sinful people, fallen people are in no position to throw stones. We may pass judgment on people, we may condemn people for what they have done, but when we sinners as we all are start passing judgment, then we end up passing judgment on ourselves.

Those with stones in their hands felt what Jesus said. Their hearts melt a little bit and they became a little bit more human. Then they started letting go of the stones in their hands. Maybe they remembered what it is like to stand in need of forgiveness and understanding. Maybe they realized that we all make mistakes. Maybe they found out what it is like to ask for compassion and mercy.

If the woman was guilty, so were they. If the woman had made a mistake, so did they. If the woman had to be stoned to death, so should they.

We all have a need for God’s forgiveness. There is not one of us here that has lived a perfect life. There is not one of us here that has not wronged someone else, or has not committed a mistake. There is not one of us here that has not sinned against God.

Some of us here have been treated harshly by our family, by our community, by the church or by others. If we constantly remember the wrongs that people have done to us, we destroy the power of God’s love in our lives. This is not the time to throw stones, but to gather them.
This is not the time to scatter down the stones, but to start picking them up. For all our pains through all the years, there has to be healing. For all our undertakings that divided us, we have to be united. Unless we work together, all the efforts we struggled for would all be in vain.

All of us need a second chance. And just like the woman in today’s Gospel and the men who accused her, all of us have a need to be forgiven. No sin is too small to need forgiving, and no sin is too great to be forgiven.
25 March 2007

1 comment:

workforce housing said...

Fr. PJ,
It is so nice to still be able to read your homilies. They are always inspiring.

Miss you,
Cathy Murphy from St. Barnabas