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Fifth Sunday of Lent

The story of the woman taken in adultery is a clear illustration of what divided the Scribes and Pharisees and Jesus. Many of the former were probably good people. They followed the Law scrupulously; however they lacked compassion. They felt that sinners must be identified and punished, and they did not see the need to give them help and support so that they might lead better lives. Last week, in the story of the Prodigal Son, we reflected on the infinite patience and loving forgiveness of God. This week John presents us with another example of God’s mercy.

We know nothing about the woman who was being accused. We do not know whether she was leading an immoral life or was possibly in a marriage she had not chosen and had found love elsewhere. It is possible that some of those who brought her to Jesus were themselves involved with her. According to Mosaic law, the man with whom she had committed the offence should be arraigned also (Deut. 22:22). However the man was nowhere to be seen.

Jesus never dwelt on sin, except when people refused to acknowledge it. He was not interested in making people feel bad but in helping them to realise what they could become. The woman must have felt truly loved and enabled to start a fresh chapter in her life.