On Judging Others

John 8: 1-11
Dn 13: 1-9,15-17, 19-30,33-62 / Psa 23

Then neither do I condemn you…. Go now and leave your life of sin.
(John 8:11)

God alone can make us virtuous;
No good we do can we claim our own.
Jesus tells those who feel righteous:
“Let him without sin cast the first stone.”

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8: 1-11)

Reflection

This is another story that demonstrates God’s compassion and forgiveness in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord was sinless, and yet He never condemned sinners. He only rebuked those who were feeling self-righteous, who proudly stood in judgment of others, like the Pharisees and the religious leaders of the Jews.

Jesus saw the greater sin of hypocrisy and malicious intent on the part of the Pharisees and teachers of the law, who were actually not as concerned about upholding the law of Moses or condemning the adulterous woman as they were in their devious design to trap Jesus by asking Him to pass judgment on the woman.

On the one hand we see the religious leaders driven by jealousy and hatred, making harsh moral judgments. On the other, we see our Lord Jesus, carefully discerning the situation, and not even using His rightful authority to make judgments or condemn the adulterous woman. But with just a few beautiful words, He turned the tables on the woman’s accusers, and then showed her His forgiveness and compassion. “…Neither do I condemn you… Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Today’s Gospel passage of John tells us that none of us can pass judgment on others, even if they have been ‘caught in the act’, simply because all of us are also sinners. Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Mt.7:1-2). Instead of passing judgment on others’ faults or wrongdoing, Jesus wants us to be more compassionate, more forgiving and understanding, especially during this season of Lent. This was the same message that came from our National President, Bro. Larry, when he exhorted the leaders of our community to close ranks in mutual respect and unity as we prepare to host the next national anniversary of the Brotherhood in our city next year.

Dear God, St. Paul reminds us in that it is by Your grace that we have been saved through faith, and not by our own efforts. It is Your gift, and not the result of our good works (Eph.2: 8–9). Grant therefore that we may never feel any sense of righteousness above others who may have sinned against us. Amen.

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