“Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.” John 8:10-11
Are you the one condemning or being condemned?
In today’s readings, we hear about two women, Susanna, wife of Joakim and the adulterous woman. Both women are being condemned. One for an act she did not commit and the other for actions we can infer she likely did participate in.
St Ignatius teaches us to place ourselves in the passages we read in the Bible. Being fully present through all of our senses. Imagining ourselves as a bystander or one of the characters in the scene. Take a moment and contemplate one of these scenes. Are you the one condemning or are you the one being condemned? Are you a bystander watching the judgement but also seeing the love and mercy of God?
Reading these two passages from the Bible, I was a bystander, drawn to the eyes of these two women as they are placed before judgement by men that we could say held some prestigious status.
As I looked into their eyes, I asked myself when have I been in a position similar to these women?
Many years ago, I was wrongfully accused by another of actions I didn’t commit. I’ve also condemned myself for sinful actions that I partook in. In both cases, God poured out mercy upon me just as He did these two women.
In our journey, sometimes we are the condemner and other times the one being condemned. The person we are condemning can be ourselves or another.
The readings today reveal God’s amazing love for us in our journey. In the reading from the book of Daniel, Susanna cries out in prayer to God, trusting Him as the ultimate judge that is all knowing. Through her faith in His mercy, Daniel uncovers the deception of the two elders and clears Susanna from the charges brought against her.
In the gospel, the adulterous woman is brought before Jesus to be stoned to death for her actions. Although we can infer she did commit this sinful act, Jesus illustrates God’s mercy that we experience when we seek forgiveness with a contrite heart. He doesn’t condemn her, but does exactly the opposite. He pours out compassion through forgiveness. The same love and mercy we receive today when he forgives our sins.
What is our invitation in the readings today? Perhaps, it is to dive within and evaluate when we are judging and condemning ourself or others. How can we, like Jesus, pour compassion and love into ourself and others through acts of kindness and forgiveness?
Lord, search my heart today and reveal to me when I have judged my neighbor and have been harsh on myself. Fill that space with a desire to forgive and pour out compassion instead of judgement. Amen