5th Sunday of Lent, Year C - II

Isaiah 48:16-21 / Philippians 3:8-14 / John 8:1-11

Can you name one gadget that has gone through more evolution than the other gadgets? We may think it’s the mobile phone. Yes, that might be one of the contenders. Hint: this gadget has even crept into the mobile phones.
Yes, we are talking about cameras, and most mobile phones have not just one but even two cameras – one to take a selfie. When we talk about cameras, there are just so many categories to it. There is that traditional camera that photographers use.

Then there is the surveillance camera, the security camera, the traffic light camera, the video camera, hidden camera, spy camera, etc.

And these cameras are almost everywhere. At traffic junctions, shopping malls, supermarkets, lifts, cars, offices and even at home. 

No doubt, these cameras serve to prevent mischief and can be a deterrent to crime and other offences.

But at times we feel that we are being watched and we also don’t know who is watching us.

So when we know that a surveillance camera is around, we become like actors – we put on our best pose.

And with high resolution cameras and handy video-cam, we also wouldn’t know who is taking our photos, or who is filming us.

It would be rather scary and embarrassing to see our photo or a video of us in the internet doing something silly.

During the time of Jesus, there were no cameras or video-cam, but there was something more sneaky – human spies.

In the gospel, the scribes and Pharisees brought before Jesus a woman who was caught committing adultery.

How they caught her in the act is really questionable, and we also don’t want to know how they did it.

Presumably, they spied on her and then caught her in the act and then dragged her before Jesus.

What the scribes and Pharisees did was really deplorable. Besides putting the woman to public shame and humiliation, they were also using the situation as a test to look for something to use against Jesus.

And these kind of deplorable acts continue to this day and age. 

There are some people who use social media to publicly shame and humiliate others who make a mistake.

We may wonder on what grounds and with what rights do they have to do this.

Maybe that’s why Jesus bent down and starting writing on the ground. Jesus could be telling us that we all stand on the same ground and we have no right to judge and condemn others.

And with that, He also gave a ground-shaking teaching – If there is one of you who have not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.

The gospel passage also highlighted the tendency to make shame and humiliation a public affair, but when it comes to forgiveness, nobody seemed to be interested. It was just between Jesus and the woman; everyone has left.

But we need to hear about forgiveness. The world needs to hear about forgiveness. Because forgiveness is the sign of God’s love and mercy in the world.

There is this story that happened during WWII, in a jungle where fierce fighting had taken place.

A soldier and his buddy were separated from their platoon during the crossfire.

This soldier and his buddy were from the same hometown and they looked after each other, gave each other comfort and encouragement as they trekked through the jungle in the days that followed. 

They were not able to get in touch with their platoon, but thankfully, they managed to shoot a deer and survived on the deer meat.

One day, they ran into enemy forces in the forest and engaged in another gun fight. They managed to escape.

Just as they thought they were safe, a gunshot rang through the air. 

The soldier who was walking in front fell to the ground. He was shot on his shoulder. 

His buddy who was behind him frantically ran towards him, he was so scared of losing his friend that he started mumbling nonsense and cried hysterically as he hugged his injured friend. 

That night, the soldier who was not injured muttered to himself the whole night, talking to his mother as if she was with them. Both of them thought their lives would be ending. That day, none of them touched the remaining deer meat.

The next day, their platoon found them.

After thirty years, the soldier who was injured said: I knew who shot me that day. It was my buddy. He had passed away last year. 

On that day in the forest thirty years ago, I touched the barrel of his rifle when he hugged me. It was hot. That very night, I forgave him. I knew he shot me to keep the deer meat for himself. But I also knew that he wanted to keep himself alive for his mother. 

Unfortunately, war is cruel, his mother died before we came back. 

After we returned from the war, I went with him to pay our last respects to his mother at her grave. 

Then, he had knelt before me and asked me to forgive him. I didn’t let him continue talking nor did I let him explain anything, for I had long forgiven him and I had no reasons not to. We remained best of friends till he passed away last year.

Just a story about forgiveness and we need to hear and tell of these stories of forgiveness.

The world would be a more beautiful place when we talk to each other about forgiveness instead of talking about each other’s failings.

Where there is forgiveness, no more stones will be thrown.

And it was because God forgives us that the large stone over the tomb was rolled away. Because no stone is large enough to block the power of God’s love and mercy. (SY)