Jesus Writes Our Sins on Sand and His Pardon on Our Hearts

Fifth Sunday of Lent, Year C
By Monsignor Francesco Follo

ROME, March 15, 2013 ( -
Love forgives
Once more we listen to a Gospel of mercy. Last Sunday we have contemplated the embrace of the merciful Father who with his love hugs and rehabilitates the prodigal son, who had left the paternal house and had wasted not only his inheritance, but also his dignity.
Today we contemplate Jesus, who writes the sins of the fragile humanity on sand and his mercy in the heart of a woman thirsty for life.

In this contemplation let's imagine being present at the scene described by the Gospel of the Roman liturgy. In the morning we can see Jesus present in the temple and the people who go to him. He sits down (the Greek version uses the word kathizo, what a teacher does when he sits at his desk to teach his students). Some scribes and some Pharisees come carrying a woman that they throw at his feet and ask, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?" The scribes and the Pharisees want the lapidating stones to "bounce off" from the woman to Christ, who doesn't answer immediately to the question posed to Him, as it is posed as a mortal trap.
In fact if He had challenged Moses' law in order to save his reputation as a good man, genteel as a lamb (His Passion is coming), they would have stoned Him for blasphemy.
If He had agreed with the guilty verdict, He would have put headstones on His message of mercy.
Moreover if from one side Jesus could not legitimate the sin, on the other I believe that He hated the fury of the fierce and the impudence of the sinners that wanted to be judges of the sins of the others.
Christ doesn't fall in the trap and solves the dilemma between justice and pardon: He forgives. He doesn't recant the Law, but reveals the image of a God who loves his people to the point that they can learn to be merciful too. In doing so He makes brighter the true and happy news of the Gospel which is mercy, creative justice.
In order to teach mercy, Christ writes on sand to show that for Him the words of the accusers have the same value as dust. On the contrary he carves his forgiveness in the heart of the adulterer and today on our hearts, which have become hearts of flesh thanks to the pain of sin. He, the only one without sin, says "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her" to explain that the ones that want the application of the Law must first apply it to themselves and to remind that the accusers too are sinners. When the woman was carried to him, Jesus lowered his eyes so as not to hurt her with his gaze. After having forgiven her, He looked at her and she understood that He was seeing in her greatness and a dignity that even sin cannot destroy. He called her " Woman" in the same way He called his mother, Mary, at Cana and on the Cross, a supreme sign of God's mercy.
A question of gaze
To learn this mercy we must look at Christ with the same grateful eyes of this sinner who was saved by the pardon of the Redeemer, "Neither do I condemn you". In the same way Christ will say to every one of us, "Go, and from now on do not sin anymore." The pure eyes of Christ crossed those pleading of the adulterer. Christ saw in her the original beauty of her soul even if blurred by sin. The woman, whose soul's eyes had been purified by forgiveness, saw the sky of which the Redeemer's eyes are the windows
In the light of this encounter let's make ours the introductory prayer of today's liturgy: "Lord, you who in Christ make new everything" included our misery, make "in our heart bloom the song of gratitude and of joy".
The light of Christ's eyes will reflect in ours and we will have a pure and grateful look as it is required to the consecrated Virgins whose presence makes us look above, and refers to the truest reality toward which all are set forth. The consecrated Virgins give themselves to God and remind us to have a contemplative look. Let's pray with them and with the Church so that we can be filled with the light and the gratefulness that become donation and service of love. (Rite of the Consecration of the Virgins # 24).