Gospel Reflection for the 6th Sunday of Lent Year C – March 13th 2016
Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At daybreak he appeared in the Temple again; and as all the people came to him, he sat down and began to teach them.
The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman along who had been caught committing adultery; and making her stand there in full view of everybody, they said to Jesus, ‘Master, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery, and Moses has ordered us in the Law to condemn women like this to death by stoning. What have you to say?’ They asked him this as a test, looking for something to use against him. But Jesus bent down and started writing on the ground with his finger. As they persisted with their question, he looked up and said, ‘If there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Then be bent down and wrote on the ground again. When they heard this they went away one by one, beginning with the eldest, until Jesus was left alone with the woman, who remained standing there. He looked up and said,
‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘
No one, sir’ she replied.
‘Neither do I condemn you,’ said Jesus ‘go away, and don’t sin any more.’
“We look at the sky, there are many, many stars; but when the sun rises in the morning, the light is such that we can’t see the stars. God’s mercy is like that: a great light of love and tenderness.’ ‘So when Jesus acts as confessor to the woman he does not humiliate her, he does not say: ‘What have you done? When did you do it? How did you do it? With whom did you do it?’ No! He says: ‘Go and do not sin again!’ God’s mercy is great, Jesus’s mercy is great.
We find the warm and open heart of Jesus hard to take. It seems too good to be true that God is so forgiving. One way to understand God’s mercy is to allow ourselves be forgiven and show mercy. It is the sort of mercy a parent shows when they still believe in their child who has done great wrong. Trainee teaches were sometimes told – ‘when a child really drives you mad, remember he has a mother who loves him’! A help to show mercy is to see the mercy in the eye of God for someone with whom we have a big difference.
Mercy when we receive it helps us show mercy ourselves. When we are hard on others, it’s sometimes because we are hard on ourselves and cannot really believe we are loved. The light of God’s mercy is bright enough that you can no longer see the stars that are our sins and faults and failings. Maybe Jesus means something like this when he says that he is the light of the world.
Be merciful O Lord, for we have sinned. Forgive us and heal us!
Donal Neary SJ
Fr Donal Neary SJ is editor of the Sacred Heart Messenger