Lenten reflection on the woman who was caught in adultery

By Deacon Chris Kabat
For The Catholic Messenger

In Sunday’s Gospel a very grave and serious sin is placed in our midst. A sin so grave the punishment calls for death by stoning. But the circumstances surrounding it are suspect. We have the men of the law and the Pharisees; we have the woman and we have Jesus. What is going on here? I think it would be good to ask ourselves a few questions. What is it about this woman and how she was treated by the men of the law? How does their treatment of her compare with the treatment she receives from Jesus? Is there something deeper here than naming her sin, the sin of adultery?

Dcn. Kabat

We are going through a period during this season of Lent called the Scrutinies. As the catechumens prepare for the sacraments of initiation, there is a period of scrutiny. What is scrutiny? Taking a deeper look at the definition, we see that it is a diving deep and a searching out of the good in something. So often this word is taken as a negative, but not here at all! For the catechumen it is searching out the true, the good and the beautiful that is God. For the church, it is us searching out the true, the good and the beautiful in the catechumen we are about to welcome into the great assembly! For all of us who will renew our baptismal promises, it is the searching out of how well we are following the will of our heavenly Father. What goods do we have that can be brought out? Instead of focusing on the negative, is there something positive that, with a little scrutiny, can be brought out of us more fully?

Jesus bends down and writes on the ground. We do not know what he was writing. Maybe he was scrutinizing the good in the woman. Let those without sin cast the first stone? The truth is, we all have sin … and we aren’t the ones who can condemn, nor should we. Upon deeper reflection, we can see our need for God’s mercy and forgiveness. At the same time, we should also see that we are God’s children who are loved beyond all measure. We then start to see ourselves as God sees us. We pray that we will hear the Lord’s words, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more!”

If we allow ourselves to enter into who we are, who we were created to be, children of God and children of the Light, we begin to see the good and upright in us which allows us to become more like Christ: full of love, full of compassion.

The woman was able to look deep within, through the eyes of Jesus, and see herself transformed. She was forgiven! She found the love of Jesus in who she was created to be; she was a disciple. Aren’t we all called to be disciples? Where better to spend time in scrutiny with Jesus than in the sacrament of reconciliation? Where we will hear the words of Jesus, “I absolve you of your sins ….” More aligned with Jesus as his disciple at that very moment. Once absolved, we can truly let Jesus search out the good in us, so that we can be transformed and become more and more like him. Go, and sin no more!

(Deacon Chris Kabat is a deacon at St. Wenceslaus Parish in Iowa City.)

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