“Jesus finally straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where did they all disappear to? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir,’ she answered. Jesus said, ‘Nor do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.’” (John 8:10-11)
After such a morning as this where did the woman go? Where could she go? Were her steps hurried for fear the men might come back? Did she walk away slowly as if she were in some kind of amazing trace? Was she confused and disorientated, not knowing where to go? Did she walk away at all or did she linger at the side of this strange yet compelling man?
We do not have the answers to the question of what she did but perhaps our heart tells us today that if she went away at all she would eventually come back. Since she was rescued from a sure death perhaps something hardened inside was shattered and she was left pure and innocent once again. Now a new world of possibilities was spread before her, possibilities that would draw her back to this prophet for direction.
So often when we reflect on this reading we put ourselves in the crowd that had to walk away. Today let us imagine that we are the woman that walked away for, after all, are we not also sinners and do we not face condemnation? Certainly we are like the Pharisees, quick to condemn. But today let us be the reckless and perhaps desperate woman who had made a bad choice. Let us meet face to face the one person who might understand that underneath our sin is our destiny.
When our sin has been forgiven who are we now? Do we recognize this brand new person? Jesus seems to think so. Jesus didn’t feel the need to instruct the woman about future behavior. He seemed to know that she can find her way home now. And perhaps He knew that the road home will lead her right back to Him. Likewise He knew that once we experience His reconciling grace that we too can find the way to lasting life.
Today as the adulterous woman becomes our patron saint perhaps we will understand that forgiveness is our door to freedom and that we are called to go through it. And once through the door perhaps we will understand that our mission is to help others know that forgiveness too.
Sr. Janis Yaekel, ASC.