Homily March 17. 2013 Fifth Sunday of Lent C
Today’s gospel informs us or reminds us of a few things. The first thing is Jesus’ attachment to the Mount of Olives. For Him it was a favorite spot to rest, to retire to prayer and renew His own spirit. It is where He will be found by His accusers at the time of the coming crucifixion. From there He went to the temple and people came to Him and he began to teach them.
Now we know that the scribes and pharisees were actively seeking to discredit Jesus, and they were looking into every means possible. The best way they figured would be to catch Jesus in some way going against the Jewish law. His preaching of love and forgiveness didn’t sit well with them as the law was so crystal clear and unyielding. They set out to trap him using not only the law of Moses but also the Romans’ law of their time. Deuteronomy prescribed stoning for adultery, so they brought a woman caught committing adultery to Him. In their dishonest questioning way, they sought out Jesus’ judgment of the woman. It was for them, so they thought, the perfect setup. Present the outrageous and receive a snap judgement. Stone her and ensure the wrath of the crowd and the Romans.
Jesus would have none of that. He first set them back by simply kneeling down and writing on the ground. This is much like what we would do in doodling while thinking today. It was unnerving to the woman’s accusers. Sure they quoted the law, but they used it to their own intentions. They left something out. If they caught the woman, where was the man. The law prescribed that both be stoned to death. They were using the law for their ow purpose. Their intentions were not good or honest but self-serving and even sinful in their selective use of the law.
Uneasiness gradually spread as Jesus remained silent and one by one the whole crowd left uncomfortable and indecisive and afraid of what to do. They could not condemn the woman and thus they fled neither condemning or forgiving. Jesus Himself refused to condemn her and told her to sin no more. I think there is much to learn from this. The most important thing is about judging. It is so easy to judge, but do we do it fairly. Can our heart and intentions ever be totally free of our own self motives that we can be a just judge? If truth be told, it would be better to learn to forgive and just forget about trying to judge.
From the scribes and pharisees today, we can learn also. It is a simple lesson but one learned with difficulty. The lesson is that the law and what power might come from it is meant to serve all and not the selfish intentions of those who implement it. Misuse of power is probably one of the greatest sins we have seen throughout history.
So we see, today’s gospel tells us much. It is about prayer, judgement and forgiveness, it gives us pause to look into ourselves and our intentions.