Today’s Gospel: John 8, 1-11
She was held captive by her public sin, the man—maybe among the crowd—held privately his sinning with her. Only she would bear the shame publicly. His shame was wrapped in pride, kept hidden and made harder to repent of.
Our Lord knew the deceitfulness in the scribes and Pharisees who brought the woman. He knew the duplicity of the sexual sin of both parties, of the one-sided law, and the entrapment of the question.
I wonder if Jesus’ writing on the ground was the opportunity for the men to be reflective, to look within their hardened hearts of pride for their own transgressions.
Public sins are harder to forgive. The adulterous woman’s acts were known in her community. She would bear her shame until the scarlet faded. She would need to forgive herself and find amends with her neighbors, to whose children she had exposed to an injury to the covenant of marriage.
The community must forgive her, and the man, and openly encourage both for the betterment of their soul, and their souls as well.
Public sins can be a lasting embarrassment and though we may atone, the persons, places, or the memories trigger the shame afresh. It is a process to forgive, and sometimes a long arduous journey.
No matter that.
For no matter how great our sin, when we turn in contrition to Our Lord in prayer, his mercy is even greater. He offers us the means to do better, to forgive more deeply, and to try our best to avoid the sin again.
What is the situation for which I’ve not forgiven myself of a public mistake? Not forgiven another for their mistake? What is it that prevents me from allowing God’s mercy?
Lord, help me to forgive myself and trust in your mercy. Help me to let go of my pride, to see my sins reflected in others, and to let go of fear to help them and myself to heal.
Copyright 2016 Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB
Margaret Rose Realy, Obl OSB, is a lay hermit, advanced master gardener with over 35 years experience in the green industry, liturgical garden consultant, author, and offers presentations, workshops, and retreats. She is the coordinator emeritus of St. Francis Retreat Center Garden Society, DeWitt, Michigan, columnist at CatholicMom.com and blogs about gardening and spirituality at Morning Rose Prayer Gardens, Patheos.com.