Jesus disarms a bloodthirsty mob who want to stone an adulterous woman with a searing challenge. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by building the Virtue of Magnanimity so he can imitate St. Joseph and protect vulnerable women and by seeking the Fruits of Chastity and Modesty so he can reject lust and live in purity.
5th Week of Lent – Monday – Jn 8:1-11
During the Feast of the Tabernacles, the chief priests and Pharisees’ plot to arrest Jesus and attempt to trap Him with an apparently no-lose plot: they will bring an adulteress to Jesus, and ask if He will pronounce judgment that she should be stoned to death as required by Mosaic Law. If Jesus agrees, the Jewish leadership can report Him to the Romans for breaking the Roman law, because Jews were forbidden to execute a person; if Jesus does not agree, the Jewish leadership can denounce Him as being a false prophet who denies Mosaic Law (Lev 20:10; Deut 22:22).
A stoning mob of Pharisees and scribes forcibly drag the adulterous woman before Jesus, publicly shaming her, and ask if He agrees the woman should be stoned; hypocrites, they do not hold her male adulterer to the same standard. Bending down, Jesus wrote in the dust, perhaps an allusion to Jeremiah’s condemnation (Jer 17:13) of shameful sinners who abandon the “fountain of Living Water” (the day before Jesus had revealed He was the source of “living water”); it is also a reminder that the sinners will die and return to dust. As His condemnation sinks in, Jesus stands and says, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her”, and then bent down again, and continued writing in the dust. The conspirators, beginning with the oldest who are the first to realize the plot has failed, slink away; perhaps some had a change of heart.
Jesus is left alone with the adulteress after heroically rescuing her from stoning. Continuing to stoop, perhaps maintaining the sitting position of a rabbi, or to present a less intimidating posture to ease the poor woman’s stress, Jesus looks up and asks, “Woman, where are they? Has not one condemned you?” In perfect contrition, the sinful woman responds with humble faith, “No one, Lord.” In a prefigurement of the Sacrament of Penance and bypassing sacrificial sin offerings of the Temple, Jesus knows the woman has sinned and grants her forgiveness, stressing she must not enter into adultery again, and live a life of purity.
Be awed by Jesus Christ
Marvel at the astounding way Jesus defeats the evil mob: despite the frenzy and violence of the impending attack, Jesus remains perfectly Peaceful; Divine Protector, Jesus is willing to fight for those who are subjected to attack; Divine Prudence, Jesus Shrewdly assesses the Pharisee’s “no-fail” trap, and masterfully uses Reason (both Pathos/Appeal to the Heart and Logos/Logic) to force the would-be murderers to retreat in humiliation.
Imitate St. Joseph and protect vulnerable women
Realize: Jesus, the model of heroic masculinity, upholds the dignity of women and protects a woman from abuse, as He was taught to do by His earthly father, St. Joseph; St. Joseph heroically defended the pregnant Blessed Virgin Mary.
Believe: Reflect upon the need to draw closer to St. Joseph (CCC 437, 532).
Pray: Jesus, Son of Joseph, help me build the Virtue of Magnanimity (a part of Fortitude) so I imitate St. Joseph and take up the great and noble work to courageously protect vulnerable women.
Reject lust and be Chaste and Modest
Realize: In direct opposition to the perverse modern culture which denies, or even celebrates sexual sin (pornography, fornication, homosexual acts), Jesus commands men enslaved by sexual sin to repent, and “do not sin again.”
Believe: Reflect upon Chastity (CCC 2337-2359).
Pray: Spirit of Purity, give me the Fruits of Chastity and Modesty so I can resist lust and confess my sexual sins promptly if I fall.