What's the difference between Righteous and Self Righteous? This is a question inspired by Sunday's cycle C Gospel of the woman caught in adultery. We know it has to do with how we see ourselves and others before our God. Over and over again we are reminded not to judge others and yet that is a sin so many of us fall into.
Who do you identify with in the Gospel this Sunday? Would it be the Pharisees who, with the law on their side speak against a woman caught in a terrible circumstance, a terrible sin? Would it be those men standing with stones in their hands and hidden in their robes ready to carry out the command of the law? Maybe you identify with the woman herself, and stand terrified before those who would accuse you? Perhaps you wonder about the absent adulterer, the man who was not standing there with the accused woman? Are you an observer to the scene? Are you ready to pick up your own stone and take the law literally into your own hands? Are you a peasant hidden behind the crowd trying to imagine how to change the end of story?
Do we understand what Jesus is really saying?
If I take the time to look at my own life and judge myself honestly…where would I ever find the nerve, the right, the desire to judge my brother or sister? And let's be honest, it's easier and a lot less scary to be looking at the sins of others, then to do the work needed to look at myself and judge myself. Jesus tells us in the Lord's Prayer to forgive others AS we forgive ourselves…how easy is that to do if we don't know how to forgive ourselves?
Judging. Forgiving. Accepting. Mercy…In this most incredible year of Mercy, that is the bottom line isn't it? Mercy!!
I used to wonder, like the chicken or the egg, which came first…God's mercy or God's justice. I do believe and am ever grateful that in the end, it is always God's mercy that triumphs. So, it is no surprise at all in this story that Jesus is merciful. Jesus is the face of God's mercy, and quite simply, calls us to be the same in our time and place.
Happy 5th Week of Lent. Are we ready for Holy Week? Much peace to you and yours.