God give us holiness and charity. Amen.
John 8, 1-11. Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him: and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst. they say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him. that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground. as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it. being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
In the sight of Jesus, the merciful Savior of sinners, nothing is more detestable than uncharitable judgments. He that exalts himself, and wields the sharp lash of the law on his neighbor, is the exact reverse of that which Jesus was. This applies not only to those who without charity condemn others as gross sinners, but also to those who boldly presume to decide whether their neighbors are or are not true Christians. — Humility, charity, and kindliness are pleasing to the Lord; but he detests pride and heartlessness, which assume the garb of pious zeal, or make a pretense of being interest in the salvation of souls. — Men are won by love and confidence, but are repelled by distant assumption of superiority. Have you not even so much love as is required to understand this? You do not help any one to examine himself by your looking on him with suspicion; but by believing him to be a better man than he really is you might induce him to reflect on his condition.
“Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned; but what sayest thou?” They hold forth that which Moses had written; and then, for once, Jesus writes something. I imagine that he wrote that which Moses has recorded in Leviticus 19, 18: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself; I am the Lord.” They knew that the Lord had mercy on sinners; and now they hoped to find an opportunity to use his mercy as a weapon against him. See with terror what pride leads to, dear reader! They seek to make of the Lord’s mercy toward poor sinners a halter for himself. They argue in this wise: If he condemns her, he loses the favor of the sinners; if he acquits her, we can charge him with having disregarded the law.” They did not see that they themselves were treading under foot the law of love, with which they were acquainted, and that they were more to be condemned than was this guilty woman. Then the Lord speaks words which pierces their conscience like a fiery dart: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” The place becomes too close for them, and they all go out. All of them without one exception! Here is something which we do well to ponder! — Jesus has not repealed the law, but confirmed it, and here he makes the scribes and Pharisees feel its sting. He never approves of sin, but condemns it; and we may hope that some of them in this case also admitted the justice of his decision, and never afterward passed sentence on others. And the woman? When the others had gone away, Misery and Mercy were alone together. Jesus had judged her accusers; but he does not condemn her. He says to her: “Go, and sin no more.” Let us bear in mind that this woman had been taken in adultery, and that she does not come to the Lord of her own accord in her soul’s need. He does not say that her sins are forgiven her; but neither does he condemn her. Is there not herein a lesson which you might do well to learn?
Lord Jesus, forgive us our want of charity; and do thou make right the wrong which we thus have done. Lord, give us humility and charity; give us in our souls that love which thou hast. Amen.
Lord, if thou thy grace impart,
Poor in spirit, meek in heart,
I shall as my master be,
Clothed with humility:
Simple, teachable, and mild,
Changed into a little child,
Pleased with all the Lord provides,
Weaned from all the world besides.