Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.
When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
As a longtime Catholic high school administrator, my budding-existentialist students loved to cry hypocrisy against their teachers who enforced school policies. “But Mr. Kennedy, why can that teacher be on her phone, and I can’t?” Or in the all-important case of facial hair, “If I have to shave, why don’t you have to?” While these students didn’t quite get the concept of adult rules and student rules, they weren’t always wrong noting how we adults sometimes behaved. Teacher lounges are oft ripe with some of the juiciest gossip or insubordination banter, behavior we would never tolerate from our students. We adults fall into the same traps that our students do. Our kids are listening, and they are emulating us. All too often, we find stones in our hands.
Do we demonstrate the self-awareness Jesus calls for in today’s readings? Are our everyday conversations reflective of our highest selves? Adultery and gossip are not the same, but each is a sinful act that dishonors God.
We can be better. We must be better. This goes for what we say, what we tweet, and ultimately how we treat one another. It begins with us. Drop the stone, “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”
Heavenly Father, fill me with patience to look at myself when I am quick to judge others. Help me see my own shortcomings, address them, and commit to leading a more altruistic life, and in doing so, serve as an example of your love. Amen.
—Patrick KennedyPlease share the Good Word with your friends!