Perhaps the woman caught in adultery was a first-time offender or a repeated offender. Regardless, she didn’t have a voice. She had no rights. The woman was automatically to blame, especially in a sexual crime.
Like when a couple who is not married gets pregnant people assume that the woman lured the man into having sexual relations and therefore the fault is hers. Notice that men are the ones who bring the woman who was caught in adultery to Jesus—the scribes and the Pharisees—they were the priests—the religious police. Besides studying the Law, their job was to make sure that everyone kept the Law. The scribes and the Pharisees were already suspicious of Jesus because He constantly disregarded the Sabbath observances. Therefore, they tried to put Jesus into a “no win” situation. However, Jesus turned their negativity into a moment of redeeming grace. Through His silence the accusers were able to hear themselves. Jesus did not fight fire with fire—as we so often want to do. We get defensive when we feel attacked. Even when we know that we are guilty, when someone questions our integrity, we want to fight back. The woman had nothing to say in her defense. Her life was in the hands of her accusers. She knew that she was doomed. Notice that Jesus said nothing on her behalf either. He made only one statement. A statement that has echoed through the centuries and applies to every case in which we judge others. “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Everyone withdrew, beginning with the elders. The elders apparently had more sins. The more milage we have, the more are the opportunities to make mistakes. The obvious truth is that no one is without fault.
Yet, we act like we are. We justify our attitude by thinking that we are not the worst sinners in the world. The ones we are accusing are much to blame than we are. Even if we’ve never met them, but we’ve heard about them—which is participation in gossip. But their names made the headlines. As we know, headlines are always reliable. Think again. Or just think! Jesus challenged the headlines of His day. There was no question as to the guilt of the woman caught in adultery who was presented to Him for judgement. But He did not judge her. He refused to condemn her. Jesus did not have sins. He is God. Our Lord could have cast her into hell at that moment if he wanted. Jesus chose to show mercy. The road less traveled.
Mercy is almost as rare as cheep gasoline. What is sad is that mercy is within our power. We have the power to free and the power to bind. Jesus gave the Church and gave each of us to power to forgive. The accusers walked away when they saw their own faults. They could not cast a stone. Anyone who judges, anyone who casts a stone, people who think themselves better than others are missing a step. They skip the step of looking at their own life first. Judge not and you will not be judged. In our upside-down world, we have turned things around to fit our will. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Has become “Do unto others before they do unto you.” A person is believed guilty until proven innocent, just because an accusation is made, especially if they are ignorant, homeless or from a minority group. The popular mentality is about “us” against “them”. We are right and they are wrong. Certainly, the present global tension has not inspired confidence. Everybody has got a rock ready to throw. Doesn’t matter at whom—lots of folks are just angry. We’ve become suspicious of our shadow. Someone must be to blame for all the trouble we have. So, we pick a target—political, religious, notorious sinner and we are loaded with a stone. Jesus just bends down, prays for us—for all of humanity.
If we are honest—if we dare to face who we are, the stones will fall to the ground. None of us are free of sin. We must all depend on God’s mercy.