Homily for April 11, Monday of the V week of Lent
The contrast between the first reading and the Gospel reading today contains some important reminders for us as we draw near Holy Week.
The first reading could be seen to be related to the Passion of Christ inasmuch as it deals with an innocent person who is falsely accused and sentenced to death. As I mentioned in another homily, stories like this one, where the protagonist is freed through divine intervention, are often juxtaposed with readings about Jesus Himself being falsely accused and condemned to death. That kind of contrast helps us to see God’s love, because Jesus was falsely accused, but there was no divine intervention to save Him; rather He died out of love for us. God spared others, but did not spare His only Son.
Today’s Gospel is of a different kind. When we put it together with the first reading, it brings out another important facet of the Passion. In the first reading, the woman is falsely accused of adultery, and God frees her, but her accusers are put to death for their sin. In the Gospel, the woman is actually guilty of adultery, but Jesus intervenes and frees both her and her accusers – who were themselves guilty of many sins – , and He Himself is put to death instead. In other words, His death is in itself an act of divine intervention to save all the people of all times – not from physical death, but from the eternal death of condemnation to hell which our sins rightly deserve. God’s justice required that there be a punishment for sin, but in His mercy and love, He became a man to bear the sins of all humanity in our place.
This is what makes Holy Week so powerful a time of grace for us. Every one of us is a sinner to a greater or lesser degree. Despite that, every one of us has probably, at some point, judged other people harshly, condemning ourselves by that very act. Yet, Jesus sees each one of us exactly as we are, with our sins, our discouragement, our pride, our sorrow and repentance, and the rocks we have in our hands to cast against others or against ourselves. On Good Friday, He stands between us and the just accusations against us. He bears the punishment. He falls under the blows of our thoughtlessness, our selfishness, our self-indulgence and our malice. And on Easter, He rises again, and leaves our sins buried in His tomb.