In Sunday’s gospel we once again see Jesus being tested by the scribes and Pharisees. This time they bring a woman to him who has been caught in the act of adultery. The Mosaic law prescribes stoning as the punishment. If Jesus says she should be stoned, he will go against Roman rule that has the sole right to punish with death. If he says she shouldn’t be stoned, he will go against Mosaic law. Neither choice is the way Jesus responds. His compassionate love and mercy are in the forefront as he tells those present to be the first to throw a stone if they are sinless. They are not sinless and neither are we.
We should see Jesus’ response as a warning to us about judging another person when we are also sinful. We may find ourselves being critical of others, or prejudiced toward others different than we are. We may neglect religious obligations or slack off at work. We may be jealous or cowardly when others need our help. The ways we sin are too numerous to list, but sin is alive and well in us.
As sinners we are unworthy to judge another person. Fortunately, we have a merciful God who constantly calls us to reconciliation and offers us mercy and forgiveness. As a result of God’s gracious care for us, we should be willing to reach out to others with mercy and forgiveness and and appreciate their struggle to live good lives.
There is one part missing from the story of the adulterous woman. Where is her partner? One is not adulterous alone! The historical time of the story is different from our own time but judgmentalism is still very real where women are concerned. An unmarried pregnant woman is often frowned upon. Rarely do the judgers ask about the man who impregnated her. A woman who has small children has to leave work because one of those children is hurt or ill. She is criticized for leaving. Many women in the work-world are paid less than the men they work with who have the same responsibilities. The unspoken reason is that she is not worth what a man is in the same position. The list of inequality against women is very long. Do we ever treat a girl or woman in such a way that she feels worthless? Our God loves women and men equally, completely. There is no judgment or partiality involved. We need to be more conscious of this inequality and do all in our power to end it.
What causes you to be judgmental?
How can you model God’s loving mercy and forgiveness?