Posted by: fvbcdm | April 24, 2015

Feast of Saint Fidelis of Sifmaringen (24 April 2015)

Some years ago, one of our Dominican professors of sacred scripture at our seminary for the Paris province in northern France came into class one day. He said to the students: what, in your opinion, is that passage in the gospel which most clearly indicates the personality and character of Jesus? Different ones suggested this passage and that one. He listened to their choices, and then he told them that in his own opinion, Our Lord’s personality shines out most clearly in the episode when he is confronted by the woman caught in adultery. Her accusers and would-be executioners are the religious leaders of the people: scribes and Pharisees. They are hustling her outside the city walls where executions took place. She was caught in her sin and deserved to die according to the law of Moses. But before killing her, they could use her to catch Our Lord in the horns of a moral dilemma. The law said that she was to be killed. But Jesus was always talking about mercy and forgiveness, and had even dared to correct the law of Moses. What would HE say about the case?

Jesus heard them out, and then, since he was already seated on the floor of the temple courtyard, bent over and began writing with his finger in the sandy dust always present in Jerusalem. They pressed him for an answer: shall we stone her or not? He answered, “Let the one without sin throw the first stone at her.” Then he went back to his writing in the dust. We don’t know what he was writing, but one by one, her accusers melted away into the crowd, leaving the trembling, humiliated, condemned woman there with Jesus. He looked up at her when they were alone, and said to her, “Is there no one left to accuse you?” “No one, sir,” she replied, wondering what he would say or do now by way of killing her or sparing her. “Neither do I condemn you,” he said very simply. “Now go, and don’t sin any more.” In the hands of the religious authorities, she was as good as dead. In the hands of Jesus, she is a free and forgiven woman.

Just a short time after that, Jesus would be in the hands of the same kind of people, but there would be no one to free him from them, so they would kill him. And when we find ourselves in the hands of Jesus, as we always are, he says the same thing to us as to her: “I don’t condemn you. Now go, and don’t sin any more.” And if we really avoid any further serious sin, then our salvation is assured.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth, God Bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago.


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