FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT
‘Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more’
A woman is caught in the act of committing adultery. The penalty is death by stoning. The self-righteous mob gathers. Then Jesus arrives and a dark and ugly scene is transformed by the radiance of His tender mercy. In her grim moment of public exposure, ‘in full view of everybody’, the unnamed woman of the streets is surprised to be touched by gentleness and so enter the world of redemption: ‘neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more’. The prodigal daughter, having been overwhelmed by guilt and shame, now rises with dignity to the wonderful realisation that, in God’s kingdom past mistakes are meant to guide you, not define you. It is a place where sin is not overlooked or approved but where the wrongdoer is understood and afforded the opportunity to begin again. The parable underlines what Graham Greene called ‘the awful strangeness of God’s mercy’. Mercy always trumps vengeance. Jesus literally loved the woman into goodness. We would like to think that she seized the opportunity to turn her life around. I wonder what became of the man?