Quality and extent of forgiveness
Today’s Gospel demonstrates in a particular and dramatic way the quality and extent of divine forgiveness. The sin may be terrible but sinners are always loved.
The woman caught in adultery is brought before Jesus by the scribes and Pharisees in order to force him to give judgment on the basis of the Mosaic Law. Jesus’ first reply to the woman’s accusers, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her,” gives us an insight into his realistic understanding of the human condition, beginning with that of his questioners who began to drift away one by one. We also observe Jesus’ profound humanity in his treatment of the unfortunate woman, of whose sins he certainly disapproved, for he said to her, “Go and do not sin again.” Jesus did not crush her under the weight of a condemnation without appeal.
Our real enemy is attachment to sin, which can lead us to failure in our lives. Jesus sent the adulterous woman away with this recommendation: “Go, and do not sin again”. He forgives her so that “from now on” she will sin no more. Only divine forgiveness and divine love received with an open and sincere heart give us the strength to resist evil and “to sin no more”, to let ourselves be struck by God’s love so that it becomes our strength. Jesus’ attitude becomes a model to follow for every community, which is called to place love and forgiveness at the centre of its life.
Who are we at this moment in our journey? There is so much misery in our world and in our Church, and both the world and the Church desperately need the experience of Mercy – in merciful communities, and merciful, compassionate people. But this mercy is NOT a watering down of the Gospel message. Rather it is God’s tough love for us, a love worth struggling for each day.
Extract from Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB (CEO Salt + Light Catholic Television Network)