Fr. Kurian KollapallilThe adulterous woman was dragged by the crowd to throw stones at her and to kill her in accordance with the Law of Moses. They wanted Jesus to approve the sentence. But they all left one by one leaving Jesus and the woman alone. What did Jesus write on the ground that caused the scribes and Pharisees to leave one by one? There are many speculations and theories about what Jesus would have written on the ground.  St. Ambrose points out two possibilities based on the scripture. Christ bent over and wrote “with the finger with which he wrote the law” (Exodus 31:18).  Therefore probably Jesus was writing the commandments of God on the ground. Ambrose said in one of the letters that Jesus wrote “earth, earth, and write that these men have been disowned,” in fulfillment of the prophesy of Jeremiah in 22:29.  Some say that Jesus began to write the names of each one starting with the oldest, against their sins.  The stone-holding accusers were amazed at the supernatural knowledge of Jesus and they dropped their ammunition and left one by one.

No one knows for certain what Jesus wrote on the ground.  Whatever he wrote and his saying: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw stone at her” made them to look in to their hearts honestly and to understand that they were sinners just as this woman was.  The woman has been dragged before Jesus as a pawn in a game. Their aim was to trap Jesus on the observance of Mosaic Law. If Jesus were to free the woman from the punishment of throwing stones and killing her, Jesus would have been breaking the law. They hoped to condemn him from his own mouth. If he rejected the Law of Moses, they could find room to accuse him and denounce him as no man of God.    We know that Jesus was condemned by the frantic crowd because they said that Jesus claimed himself to be the son of God (John 19:7).

Social sins and evils like prostitution, gambling, alcoholism, gun violence, poverty, inequality, corruption, abortion, unemployment, suicides, broken families and divorces are very common realities of our time. Very often we blame others for it, but do we realize our share in contributing to their existence? Yet we apply different standards to ourselves, we point fingers at others, share the mistakes of others rather than criticizing our own flaws and sins.  We make excuses for our stubbornness, angry burst outs, vile language and unacceptable behaviors, while demanding accountability from others for their transgressions.  We are challenged by the gospel message to notice our own sins and to say my fault, my fault my grievous fault.

Go and do not sin again.

In the incident involving the woman caught committing adultery, Jesus exposed the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and the scribes. Jesus’ silence compelled them to look at themselves honestly and to realize their wretchedness. All of us in forsaking God’s laws deserve to have our names written in the earth, but God who is compassionate and merciful forgives us with the stern advice “go and do not sin again.” He expects us to live from now on a life of grace and union with God by not sinning any more. Once a person is touched by God and once he or she has received that divine command he cannot remain the same.

“We have two lives; the first is according to the ““old man”  with the faults, weaknesses and infirmities inherited from our father Adam. Therefore we live in the sin of Adam, and ours is a mortal life, more like death than life. In the second life we live according to the ” new man” ,namely, according to the graces, favors and will of the Savior. As a consequence, we live in the redemption, for eternal salvation.” St.Francis de Sales