April 7, 2019
Fifth Sunday in Lent
IS 43:16-21 PS 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6 PHIL 3:8-14 JN 8:1-11
“As we hear the familiar story of the woman taken in adultery today,” our priest began his homily. “I’m sure that a lot of questions come to mind.”
I didn’t have a lot of questions though. I only had one, “What happened to the man who was committing adultery with her?”
Jewish law said that the adulterous woman should be taken out and stoned, but what did it say about the man? Did he get off free? He got to wipe any trace of her from his own body, and then go home? What happened to the other guilty party there? Why do we never hear about the man?
Was the woman in the story just a means to an end for him? Did she just serve to scratch and itch and nothing more? We may never know, but what we do know is that the scribes and Pharisees were no better than he was. They, too, used her body, and perhaps worse, were willing to use her life, for their own personal gain.
She wasn’t a person to them. The woman was a thing. She was a pawn in their attempt to catch Jesus saying something scandalous or heretical. In their rush to triumph over Him, they were willing to over look her humanity.
Christ’s ability and willingness to see the humanity and dignity of other people may have been one of the most revolutionary things that he did. Lepers, whores, tax collectors, and sinners; He looked and saw them all. He saw beyond their sins and the labels their society used to degrade and dehumanize them, and he saw the people that they were, as well as who they could become.
It’s the same offer He makes to us today. He offers to see beyond the labels we wear, beyond the judgment of other people, beyond the things we have done, beyond the truths about ourselves that we hide from the rest of the world. He looks past all of that to the people we could be if only we allowed Him to transform us. If only we were willing to find who we really are when we allow Christ to stand between us and the world.
The way that the woman did.