“Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw” John 8:1-11
Reflection by Anna Dourgarian, Visitation Internship Program
For the first time in reading this passage, I was disappointed. It is one of the most famous passages of the entire Bible; everybody knows the line “He who has never sinned shall cast the first stone.” What a line for the world to know about Christianity! What was Jesus telling us? It sounds like he was saying that the woman’s life was valued to the extent of everyone else’s depravity. It sounds like he was saying that we should not hold others accountable for their misdeeds. It sounds like he was saying that pure morality grants the privilege to kill.
Perhaps that is what Jesus said in order to calm a rowdy crowd, in order to save a life. However, we are not a rowdy crowd. We are volunteers who want to nurture life through our service. What would Jesus say to us today if we presented to Him a neighbor who had done wrong?
He would say that this person is a treasure. He would say that, even though the wrongdoing is so noticeable, the person’s hidden goodness far exceeds the bad. We would be doing ourselves a disservice by ridding our community of such potential for excellence.
When I reread this passage, I see everything that is hidden: the woman’s hidden goodness and Jesus’ hidden message. It has taught me something very quiet but very powerful: it says look again.
Ours is a stunning world with beautiful people.
We are all a balance of the good and the bad,
and we have the power to strive for more good.
I accept responsibility for encouraging more good.
I love this world, and I commit to treating it with love.
I give thanks for it. I hold it as precious to my heart.
Focus on: Community
Making judgments is a natural and powerful function of the human brain, but it is important to acknowledge that sometimes our judgments are wrong or outdated. Take this Lenten season to recognize and reassess judgments you have made of your loved ones and not-so-loved ones. Remember to reassess the judgments you have made about yourself, too.
The adulteress in John 8 faced death by stoning for her wrongdoing. Was this just? What are the injustices in our justice system today? Research and articulate your opinion on the privatization of prisons, the national incarceration rate, and the power gap between guards and inmates. Engage others in conversation about these important topics. Visit a jail. In preparation for the day that you have to condemn a neighbor, make sure you know what your community’s sentence for criminals is.
This reflection is part of our Lenten Series – Download the Lenten Guide Here