Gospel Jn 8:1-11
‘If there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her’The stories of Jesus in the Gospels can sometimes be confusing. On one hand we have stories like this, which seem to depict Jesus as ultimately tolerant, and perhaps even what some might consider weak on sin. On the other hand there are stories such as the cleansing of the temple, which seem to paint a picture of Jesus who is altogether intolerant and impatient with sinners. What are we to make of this?
It seems that, in this story, Jesus trying to provide some useful correction, not just to the woman caught in adultery, but to all assembled – and perhaps most particularly – to those accusing her, those seeking to meet out the punishment prescribed in the law.
Jesus does not however, feel the need to harp on about the various transgressions of the law. He can see into the hearts of all. Instead, he holds up to each person their something of a mirror – inviting them to look inwardly at the state of their own soul.
Jesus’ invitation for anyone who is without sin to throw the first stone is cutting – it does not reflect on any acceptance of the sin of the woman, but instead forces everyone to take stock of their own position before God.
There is an old Christian saying that goes, ‘There but for the grace of God go I’ which is basically an invitation to put ourselves in the shoes of others. We do not know what our life would be like without the wonderful gifts that God has bestowed on us, through our family, friends or other circumstances.
Our task is not to judge others but to help them, and to work on ourselves, to take hold of the gifts which we have been given and to ‘go, and sin no more.’