Today in the gospel we encounter the story of the Woman caught in Adultery. The story is very fitting for our day and age.
It truly is a commentary on our mentality. How often are we like the scribes and pharisees who seek to catch people in the wrong! How often are we the ones who point the finger of blame and hold others bound in their mistakes and pains and failures! How often do we refuse to let others move forward all the while imprisoning them in their past!
We hunger to catch the other in the act so that we can pull them aside, point the finger, and show ourselves to be better than they. Listen to the words of the scribes and pharisees as they bring the woman to Jesus, "Moses commanded us to stone such women."
How quickly we form groups and sides and consider ourselves better than" those" people or people "such as them."
Take a moment to examine your life: when have we been guilty of this reality?
Then one of the most famous biblical passages every written is echoed forth on the lips of Jesus: "let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."
The great equalizer. Jesus invites us to to come to understand at the depths of our being the resounding truth that unites us all, the one great act of solidarity: sinners we are all.
The one thing we all have in common as St. Paul recites, we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God.
Of course this doesn't meant we should let every thing go. This doesn't mean we should be soft on sin and its effects on society. It does invites us to deeper level of compassion that wants to help each other rather than condemn each other. ANd it is precisely in this transition we go awry. We love to point our faults and failures but we fear the commitment necessary to take the other by the hand and lead them forth to freedom.
One of Jesus main critiques of the scribes of pharisees is that they lay down the law but do not lift a finger to help others live the law. How do we lift our fingers to help rather than point the finger of blame?
We should not be concerned with vengeance or punishment but with aid and effort to move from that place of destruction known as sinfulness and misery to that place of renewal and transformation we call mercy.
IT is fresh beginnings and a new start that Jesus concerns himself with: "go and sin no more." How do we help others go and sin no more. Too often we beat them down and push them away and glare and point the finger but when do we lift the finger to help them.
Blaming others is never effective, helping others break free from the chains of sinful attachment, this is where charity begins to be the very foundation of our lives in that intersection of misery and mercy.
Misery loves company as it often stated but it mercy that misery longs for most of all.
Every Saint has a past and every sinner has a future. We can either direct our attention to the past and be consumed by it or we look forward to the future of things and great hope that awaits and find freedom and discover the bounty of mercy that paves the path of charity.
Here is a bit of story from "Dead man Walking" where sister Prejean accompanied a family to deal with the imprisonment of the one who killed there son
Sister Prejean wrote: “Lloyd LeBlanc has told me that he would have been content with imprisonment for Patrick Sonnier [who murdered LeBlanc's son]. He went to the execution, he says, not for revenge, but hoping for an apology.
“Patrick Sonnier had not disappointed him. Before sitting in the electric chair he had said, ‘Mr. LeBlanc, I want to ask your forgiveness for what me and Eddie done,’ and Lloyd LeBlanc had nodded his head, signaling a forgiveness he had already given.
“He says that when he arrived with sheriff’s deputies there in the cane field to identify his son, he had knelt by his boy — ‘laying down there with his two little eyes sticking out like bullets’ — and prayed the Our Father. And when he came to the words: ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,’ he had not halted or equivocated, and he said, ‘Whoever did this, I forgive them.’
“But he acknowledged that it’s a struggle to overcome the feelings of bitterness and revenge that well up, especially as he remembers David’s birthday year by year and loses him all over again: David at 20, David at 25, David getting married, David standing at the back door with his little ones clustered around his knees, grown-up David, a man like himself, whom he will never know.
“Forgiveness is never going to be easy. Each day it must be prayed for and struggled for and won.” (Dead Man Walking pp. 244-245 New York: Vintage Books, Random House, 1993)
Just as forgiveness offered must be struggled for and won through the feelings and sentiments of bitterness and revenge so too forgiveness received requires the same struggle and the same path to victory is often the road of great challenges to overcome our attachment to sin and truly living to be free as God created us to be.
Too many times do we presume on God's mercy, especially when we are filled with misery and yet once we find it we quickly forget the tough road ahead and begin that soft slide back in to sin.