My Dear Sisters and Brothers! Would you say that it would be an accurate report of what St John recorded in the Gospel? It is not. It is not an example of reporting a story but making up the story by manipulating the facts. What did our journalist leave out? He left out the end of what Jesus said: “Don’t sin any more.”
Let me give you a deeper report, a deeper reading of the Gospel passage for this Sunday. But first tell me: when the crowd of angry people slipped away, who was left in the Temple? The adulterous woman and Jesus. St Augustin who lived in 5th century put it more profoundly when he wrote: “When all others left, only two reminded there: Misera et Misericordia – Misery and Mercy.” There was a woman- misery- whose life was so corrupted and damaged by her sins that her own community didn’t see any other option but to stone her to death. There was Jesus- mercy – whose life was so sinless and filled with the Holy Spirit that he wanted to give a share of that to that miserable woman. That’s why his words: “Don’t sin any more” were more than a wish or a command. Those words of the Mercy, Jesus, transmitted the power of the Holy Spirit who can transform even those we judge to be unchangeable.
Having read the Scripture passage carefully we see that both Jesus and the crowd agreed that the woman was a sinner however their paths parted on how to deal with the reality of her sinful life. The crowd slipped away when Jesus realised them their wrong motives. They felt embarrassed themselves. They didn’t care about the woman any more. Jesus reminded there. He showed the woman his compassion because he cared for her. Ours is a similar experience. We don’t tell anyone everything of ourselves. Instead we turn to the people we trust, don’t we? We entrust our painful and shameful issues to the people we trust. In the Gospel we can see that Jesus doesn’t invade the woman’s conscious abruptly. He slowly moves her to trust him.
That’s the essence of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation: TRUST. That’s why the sacrament is safeguarded by the seal of confession which means that the priest cannot reveal the sins he has heard during the confession. The priest doesn’t own the Confession. It’s God’s sacrament. The priest is there so that we can be sure that what we have confessed with honesty, faith and contrition is forgiven. Even if we may feel that we don’t deserve forgiveness we still hear: “I absolve you from your sins: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” That’s what we must cling to. Otherwise we can always doubt whether we have been forgiven.
How important it is we can discover in the life of two Apostles. Both of them spent similar time with Jesus and both of them betrayed him. Who were they? Judas and Peter. However the way they handled realisation of their sins was drastically different. Judas kept his burden to himself. It led him to such despair that he hung himself. Peter didn’t keep his burden to himself. He was searching for Jesus to come to with his sins. Peter didn’t need a crowd to drag him to Jesus. Upon hearing of the empty tomb on Easter Sunday morning he was running there like crazy. After what he did during Jesus’ trial Peter was misery. However in the midst of his remorse eating him he still treasured one important memory: misery needs to meet Mercy. That’s what did happen when he saw his Lord at Easter.