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How's Your Reputation?

If there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her
Isaiah 43:16-21; Psalm 126:1-6; Philippians 3:8-14; John 8:1-11

Sermon Week Fifth Sunday of Lent Cycle C

Scripture Summary John 8:7

Have you ever asked yourself, “what is the most wonderful time in life?” Is it the innocence of childhood? The adventurous teenage years? Is it the early stage of marriage, family and career -- or the profound passage of middle-age? And who doesn’t admire and respect the hard-earned wisdom of one’s golden years? Of course, life can be full of meaning and purpose in all these stages. But I submit that the most beautiful time of life is when we no longer condemn but have compassion. I believe that the most wonderful time in life is when we have come down from the judge's bench with a new attitude of understanding and acceptance. I am convinced that the most meaningful time in life is when we discover that human hearts do not need judgment, but help. For once we criticized, and now we see the need to understand. Once we were close to the devil -- separating heroes and villains -- and now we are close to God who knows only mercy, forgiveness and love. Indeed, it is when we are close to God that we truly experience the most beautiful time in life.

In today's Gospel Lesson, a group of judgmental, self-righteous Pharisees see the plight of an unfortunate woman as an excellent opportunity to embarrass Jesus. "Master," they say to Him, "this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery and Moses ordered us in the Law to condemn women like this to death by stoning. What have you to say?" (Jn.8:4-5). If Jesus were to answer, "Stone her to death according to the Law of Moses," He could be accused of contradicting His own teaching on mercy and compassion.

On the other hand, if He said, "Do not punish her in this way," He could be vilified as an enemy of law and order. But Jesus' classic, timeless response evoked only stunned silence: "If there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her" (Jn.8:7). In this Gospel episode, the primary concern of the Pharisees is [...]

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