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Judgment and Condemnation – Homily

5th Sunday in Lent, Year C
Isaiah 43:16-21
Philippians 3:8-14
John 8:1-11
March 17, 2013

As Jesus continues his ministry to teach the people, once again the scribes and the Pharisees come to test Jesus.  They come bringing the woman who was caught in adultery.

They really don’t care that she was caught in sin.  I see this as another sin on their part, they are using the woman, ignoring the fact that she is human just like them, to trap Jesus by trying to get Jesus to violate the law.  They didn’t care about her shame or acting in judgment.  It wasn’t fraternal correction they were seeking as stoning would result in death and there can be no correction after death.  They wanted to get rid of Jesus and were willing to take it however they can get it.

They cite the law that calls for stoning a woman caught in adultery.  They don’t care about the woman as a person and I’m not sure they care about the law for what it really is, a tool to follow Jesus.

I should clarify that.  It’s not that they reject law in general.  But they have blinders on.  They see the law only in their own terms.  They use it for their own good.

The law really did call to stone such a woman but it was more a human law that said this.  If Jesus says don’t follow the law, they have him on blasphemy.

Jesus knows what they are up to but basically ignores them.  They persist.

Jesus is not shaken.  He simply stays to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

No one casts the first stone.

Some of the Pharisees and scribes were probably tempted to say they didn’t have any sin.  But they don’t.  Jesus’ comment makes them think, realizing they are not perfect.

One by one they went away, all afraid that if they cast the first stone somebody would accuse them of sin.  They leave one by one until they are all gone.

When Jesus looks up, they are all gone.  He says to the woman “Where are they?  Has no one condemned you?”

She answers no.

Now, the woman was caught in the very act of adultery.  There was no denying what she had done but Jesus does not condemn her.

So does that mean she really didn’t sin after all?  Does it mean Jesus didn’t see her adultery as sin?

No, it never says that.

What does Jesus say?  “Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

If Jesus is telling her not to sin any more, it means that she has sinned in the past.  Knowing her sin, Jesus points to future without sin.

Why do we judge?

We are called to help one another avoid sin.  Stoning would not help people avoid sin.  Once they were stoned, they would be dead without opportunity to correct their behavior.  They would be without opportunity to reconcile with God.

Judgment is bad.  What we can do is “fraternal correction.”  Here we might point out a person’s sin but not to condemn them but rather solely to help them change, to change for the future.

The past is done and we cannot change it.  We are not perfect and our lives reflect that.  As Paul writes, we can never be righteous on our own but only with God’s grace.

It takes effort and not just once.  Paul speaks of how he strives to continue his pursuit to hope.  Coming to follow Jesus in all things is a difficult task.

Sometimes we take baby steps.  Sometimes we take huge steps.  If we want to change, we cannot go around and judge everyone.

We can try to help each other change but we can’t make them.  We offer correction.  We offer support.  But we do not judge lest we be judged ourselves.

Before we cast any stones, we have our own sins to worry about.

We need to stop living in the past and look to the future, always straining forward to come closer to God who is our goal.

The past is the past.  Jesus offers us a clean slate in reconciliation.  Jesus invites us to look forward to see Heaven as our goal.

Who have you judged?  Was they sin any worse than yours?  Do you look them in their past or do you give them an opportunity to move forward?

 

 

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