Fifth Sunday of Lent - C
Isaiah 43, 16-21; Psalm 126; Philippians 3, 8-14; St. John 8, 1-11
I once heard an amusing story which an old priest related. This is what he said:
When I was five years of age, an elderly Sister of Charity (a teacher in my school) taught me a memorable lesson. She had caught me accusing a playmate of a "crime." She told me to point my finger at him one more time. I did it. Then she asked none too sweetly, "Do you see that while one finger is pointed at the boy, three fingers are pointed at you yourself?" As young as I was, she had made her point which will always stay with me.
But she was not finished. "Try, James, to spend more time in the future improving on your own faults," she said with no trace of a smile. "Then you will not have time to criticize others." To make matters worse the "charge" against my friend proved subsequently to be unjustified. This religious sister, a Sister of Charity, should have been named a Doctor of the Church.
This Gospel does give us a lot to think about, does it not? It can cause us to sit down with our face in our hands and rethink our own position on accusation and punishment which is what I suspect our controversial teacher intended in the first place.
Scholars say that early followers of Christ found themselves upset by this Gospel account. They wished John had never written about it. In their minds, the narration has the Teacher being soft on sin. But this is sheer nonsense. Jesus does not say to the woman, "Worry not. Adultery is quite permissible." Rather, He does say without qualification and, I dare say, with some anger once they were alone together, "Go, but do not sin again."
The next time you find yourself pointing a finger in accusation at someone; do steal a look at the three other fingers that are accusingly pointing at your own honorable self.
Then reconsider your accusation and think the truth that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is meant for you and not only for others.