Condemnation is something that we face from time to time, and it could be big or small. But its effect is most devastating as it destroys part of us that we are not good enough or that there is no more hope left. I have been at the rope of condemnation due to the past and it is a very lonely and burdensome path to walk alone. Condemnation is also linked closely to the past as we hold on to it as a reflection of ourselves.
I could see the situation that the adulterous woman was in, and that reflected the hostile response even in today’s context. In today’s gospel, people tested Jesus and condemned the woman to death by stoning which is how the world works even till today, and this is the truth. However, the gospel offers us tools to fight against condemnation shown through the mercy and compassion of Jesus’ example.
Jesus went to the Mount of Olives, and this signifies that Jesus went to pray which itself is important in this season of Lent, and it also should be done everyday. Finding that ‘away time’ from life is important to find God and ourselves. Then when Jesus was in the temple because he is connected to the Father, the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle.
The woman must have felt so ashamed and left without dignity because the whole town now knew about her adulterous ways. Also she was made to stand in the middle and this act, according to the Ten Commandments is a grave sin indeed. “They to said to him, Teacher this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?”(John 8:1-11).
The scribes and Pharisees wanted to put Jesus in a predicament and if he defended the woman, he would be wrong but if he gave the go ahead to stone the woman, he would be going against his own teachings. It is hard, isn’t it? Difficult situations like these find ourselves being put to the test; who should we side with? What is the right thing to do?
However, Jesus was unfazed by the pressure and he said to them,”Let the one among you who is without sin be the first one to throw a stone at her”(John 8:1-11). Everyone went away starting with the eldest because they are the wisest and immediately understood the words that Jesus spoke. They knew that they were equally sinners and that they were ashamed of their judgment.
“So he was left alone with the woman before him,”Woman,where are they?Has no one condemned you?”She replied,”No one, sir.” Then Jesus said,”Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more”(John 8:1-11). The words that Jesus spoke were liberating and it gave the woman hope that she was free from her past. Also she was free from her sins through the mercy of God. This must have been a beautiful and freeing moment as our past holds us back from the present.
We are not fit to condemn others as all of us are sinners. But we can help each other by praying for each other through our times of struggle and need. Condemnation will create more problems and bring a person’s self image down. It is unfair as Jesus does not condemn, but he frees people from the clutches of sin and the past which is holding us back from experiencing God’s grace. Who are we to judge? Do we not have to learn from our mistakes?
As I finish writing this post, it is almost midnight and the hymn of Holy Darkness by Dan Schutte comes to mind as with prayer and trust, we will be with God in his providence. It is one of my favorite hymns too. God Bless!
“Holy darkness, blessed night,
heaven’s answer hidden from our sight.
As we await you, O God of silence,
we embrace your holy night.
I have tried you in fires of affliction;
I have taught your soul to grieve.
In the barren soil of your loneliness,
there I will plant my seed.
I have taught you the price of compassion;
you have stood before the grave.
Though my love can seem
like a raging storm,
this is the love that saves.
Were you there
when I raised up the mountains?
Can you guide the morning star?
Does the hawk take flight
when you give command?
Why do you doubt my pow’r?
In your deepest hour of darkness
I will give you wealth untold.
When the silence stills your spirit,
will my riches fill your soul.
As the watchman waits for morning,
and the bride awaits her groom,
so we wait to hear your footsteps
as we rest beneath your moon.”
Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong