The way we deal with moral failure in our society today is really something to worry about. It is not just the society, or religious bodies but also on individual level. The call-out culture has become a defining feature, especially of our online conversations. You see people highlighting other people’s mistakes just to feel good about themselves. How do we deal with this issue?
The gospel reading of today can provide us with a guide on how to deal with moral failure among us. The Scribes and Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman caught in the act of adultery. Jesus did not condemn her to death or tried to remove her from the society or lock her up and throw away the key. This is usually the way we react when people mess up. So, I ask you – What’s your reaction to people when they mess up their lives? Do you say, ‘I told you so,’ or ‘I could see it coming,’ or ‘It serves you right,’ or ‘How could you be such a fool?
’ The gospel of today teaches us that this is not Jesus’ way of handling moral failures. His reaction to the woman caught committing adultery was full of compassion and sensitivity. He defended her publicly, then restored her privately. He was gracious, not judgmental. Why should we work at not being judgmental? Because that is the way Christ treated us
. Jesus did not deny that the woman had sinned, but he strongly denied that her sin made her any different from anyone else, including those who were generally regarded as virtuous. The gospel reading today does not encourage us to deny the reality of sin in ourselves or in others, but it does assure us that when we bring our sin to the Lord, we will not hear a word of condemnation. The Lord does not deal with sin by eliminating the sinner. St. Paul knew that, as is clear from the letters he wrote. Before Paul met Christ, he would have been quite comfortable in the company of those men who brought the woman to Jesus. However, his meeting with the risen Lord made him a much humbler man. As he writes in today’s second reading: ‘Not that I have become perfect yet… I am still running, trying to capture the prize for which Christ Jesus captured me’. He knew from his own experience that the Lord did not deal with sin by eliminating the sinner. Writing to the church in Rome he said, ‘God proves his love for us, in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us’. Far from eliminating sinners, Christ allowed himself to be eliminated for the sake of sinners. Christ died for this woman, and for the men who were intent on shaming her publicly, and for all of us.
Yes, we make mistakes. But we are not a mistake. We are not the sum total of our sins or weaknesses. We are the sum total of God’s love for us. The men who brought the woman to Jesus saw her only in terms of her immediate past, while being blind to their own past. Jesus’ way of looking at her was far more generous; he saw the whole picture of her life, not just one little bit of it. Seeing the whole picture of her life, he also saw that she had a future, a future that those who brought her to Jesus would have denied her. When the Lord looks at us, he sees the whole picture too; he does not become obsessed with one or two details of the picture. He hears the full story of our lives, not just a couple of lines of our story. The Lord knows that our story is unfinished, and will only be complete when he himself comes to transfigure our lowly bodies into copies of his glorious body. The first reading assures us that the Lord is always doing a new deed in our lives; he is constantly creating us anew