Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson
Evil enjoys entrapment. That is evident from any search we do in Scripture, going all the way back to the time that low down snake spoiled Eden right up to today’s well-known scene involving Jesus, His perennial tormentors, the scribes and the Pharisees, show up dragging a frightened unnamed adulteress behind them. His enemies believe that they have caught Jesus in a trap. It would catch Him between the law of Moses and His own preaching about Divine mercy.
Of course, the other side has no idea that they are confronting a divine mind in Jesus, and their inevitable loss in any argument. If only they had been innocent inquirers, they could have been among the first Christians. But they were far from innocent, with scowls on their faces and the smug attitude of know-it-alls anywhere and everywhere.
There has been speculation I’ve read over the years about what Jesus was writing on the ground. Some say he wrote the Aramaic word for “hypocrisy.” Others say he spelled out the names of other sins His enemies committed. Still others hold that He just doodled on the ground to let His pesky questioners know that He sees right through their phony perplexity.
As for the trembling woman before Him, she could not have been more relieved to hear Jesus say, “Neither do I condemn you.” It’s the same feeling we get every time the priest prays the absolution prayer over us at the end of our good confession.
Do you ever experience the pain of entrapment by a sinful habit? Do you think “No Way Out?” You can take comfort from the fact that it’s a common feeling. Meanwhile, the devil enjoys the little victory we give him by our feeling of unworthiness. He really triumphs when we give up on God.
You know, that promise of freedom Isaiah made to the exiled Jews recounted in today’s First Reading could well be applied to us in our individual situations. And this too for a whole human world unwittingly trapped by a misunderstanding of true freedom. If we could ask that healed woman who met Jesus that long ago day, she could tell us what it’s like.
Friends, today we have entered a time of year that we might call “the vestibule” of Holy Week. Coming up is the perfect time to make a good confession. End your entrapment. Get ready for the relief it will bring.
Here’s a thought from Bessie Ten Boom, a condemned Jewish woman who died in the Ravensbruck concentration camp during World War 2. She steadfastly refused to hate the guards who eventually beat her to death. Her dying words were: “We must tell the people what we have learned here. That there is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still.” To me, that’s the opinion of a truly free person. What do you think?
God love you and give you His peace.
Reading I: Isaiah 43: 16-21: Yahweh is identified by a series of actions He performed in Israel’s past at the first exodus. Now the prophet tells the Babylonian exiles that a greater exodus is coming.
Reading II: Philippians 3: 8-14: Paul’s “knowing” Christ, that means on an intimate and personal way, fosters his involvement. He hopes that this identification with Christ and trust in His resurrection, will be his salvation on Judgment Day.
The Gospel: John 8: 1-11:Scholars tell us that this story was added late to the text, only coming in at the 3rd century. It certainly illustrates the statement of Jesus that comes a few verses later, namely: “I pass judgment on no one.” (8:15)