From Judgment to Mercy: A Weekly Reflection

Fr. Mike Boutin

"Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, "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 8:7-11

Michael Card's Song "Forgiving Eyes" reminds us of that in Him, we are forgiven. Watch and listen!

Do you have any idea what it's like to be a woman in this world we live in?  Jewish law forbids me from working, yet my family long ago threw me out of the house and no man wants me as his wife: ‘damaged goods' they call me.  I have a daughter from a man who, once he got what he wanted, disappeared and left me to raise Sara alone...

How am I supposed to feed her?  I did what I had to do: I'm not proud of it... and I know what the Torah says about women caught in the act of adultery... though I wonder why the men I am with have no responsibility in this?  Why does the law not forbid them? Why are they not stoned?  Or perhaps the law is afraid that one of those men might be a rabbi or a Pharisee?

I still don't understand how it happened.... There I was in his bedroom when the Pharisees ran in and dragged me from his arms. He had to have told them that I was coming... or they were hiding under the window... how else would they have known when to come in? 

And just as they found me, they dragged me out of the room, wrapped only in a tiny bed sheet, while Aaron was left behind, content and free.

They paraded me through the streets. The crowds gathered and called me "whore" and "harlot" and "Jezebel," but Aaron was still a respected butcher in the town, and she was still "the butcher's wife."

I was weeping and knew my fate: I would be stoned by some of the same men with whom I had lain.... How sinister God's ways....

Would I feel the stones?  Or would God be merciful and let me die quickly and relatively painlessly?  Would Sara be there, watching her mother and her only safeguard, stoned to death? And if not, who would tell her? How would she survive?

Then I saw him... rather, I saw his eyes... the kindest eyes I ever saw, filled with love and compassion, not just for me, but even for those whose bloodthirsty hands were holding the stones that would kill me. This Jesus had compassion for us all: all of us flawed, like birds with broken wings knowing that they could fly, but unable....

He scribbled in the sand, and even as I cowered in the corner, waiting for the first rocks to soar, I heard the dull thud in the mud, and when I looked up, they were all gone, all, except him...

He took off his cloak, covered up my sin, and sent me home: "But go and sin no more...." 

And somehow, I knew that now, I could....

He can do the same for you....

Now pray....

 

Father Mike Boutin is the co-pastor of the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, Walpole, MA, and travels widely, leading pilgrimages throughout the world to various Catholic religious sites. He is a frequent speaker on liturgy, music, spirituality, and pastoral ministry.