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Learn to forgive, not condemn

Based on Is 43:16-21; Phil 3:8-14; Jn 8:1-11

Everyone makes mistakes, but Jesus comes to save – not to condemn and destroy.

God’s faithfulness, mercy and forgiveness, and a constant call to new beginnings are again emphasized in today’s Scripture readings.

In the Gospel, the scribes and Pharisees bring a woman caught in sin to stand before Jesus as he is teaching in the temple. They say, “This woman has been caught doing something very wrong, and the law says that she should be stoned.” Wanting to trap Jesus, they ask, “What do you think should be done?”

If Jesus doesn’t join in condemning the woman, they’ll accuse him of not caring about the Law of Moses. If Jesus joins in condemning the woman, then all his teaching about God’s mercy, forgiveness and reaching out to sinners means nothing.

Silence follows. Jesus bends down and traces on the ground with his finger. Then Jesus stands up and says, “Let the person who has never done anything wrong throw the first stone at her!”

The scribes and Pharisees wanted to punish the woman, but Jesus made them realize no one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. One by one they drop their stones and silently slink away until finally Jesus and the woman are there alone.

Jesus then asks the woman, “Where is everyone? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she answers.

Then Jesus says, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

Often we see the mistakes and faults of others before we notice our own. We should be ready to forgive others, just as others forgive our mistakes and faults. Just like Jesus, we should be forgiving and give others another chance.

Loving and merciful Jesus, help us to be forgiving, to give others another chance and to remember that we all make mistakes.