April 3, 2021
A woman caught in adultery. Dragged to Jesus. What was this dramatic encounter like? And what can we learn from it?
- The Lord says He is doing something new to free us from the burdens and wounds of our past.
- The great revelation of Divine Mercy frees us from the wounds and makes us capable of being instruments of Divine Mercy for others.
- Ignatius spoke of how helpful it was to try to imagine ourselves present at the different accounts and events of the Gospel.
- The writings of Maria Valtorta, a mystic, are very helpful meditations to help place ourselves in a gospel event.
Father John Mary read from one of Maria Valtorta’s accounts of the gospel for today.
“Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not, see, I am doing something new. Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” I am doing something new. The Lord says, wanting to free us from the burdens of our past, the wounds of our past. And we know we have here, that image of Divine Mercy, and the great revelation He gave for our time, the great revelation of Divine Mercy, to free us from our past, and to free us from the wounds that we’re carrying, and to make us also capable of being instruments of Divine Mercy for others, to begin to create something new, something not of sin, but of God’s presence. And this gospel is a great example of that, of Jesus beginning this revolution of freeing us from a past of sin and hurts and beginning the opportunity to begin something new. And for all the men who are making this Cor Jesu retreat, this is a good retreat, as always, an opportunity, also, to begin something new. And so, St. Ignatius spoke of how helpful it was to try to imagine ourselves present at the different accounts of the Gospel, the different events in the Gospel. And I feel that a number of you have often heard us speak of Maria Valtorta, this a mystic, who her writings, I think are very helpful meditations to do that, to help us to place ourselves in a gospel event. And so, I want to share one of those with you about today’s Gospel, and it’s in two parts. The first is a description and then the second is a teaching. And as I’m reading the description, you might find it helpful to close your eyes and put yourself at that place. “I see the inside of the enclosure of the temple. That is one of the many courts surrounded by porches. And I also see Jesus who well wrapped in His mantle that covers His tunic. The latter is dark red and not white and seems to be have a heavy woolen cloth. He is speaking to a crowd of people standing around Him. I would say that it is a winter day because I noticed that everybody is muffled up and it must be rather cold because people instead of standing or walking fast as if they wish to warm themselves. The wind is blowing, shaking mantle’s and raising dust in the courts. The group is pressing around Jesus. But then it opens to let a small group of gesticulating venomous scribes and Pharisees pass. They are spurting venom from their eyes. They’re livid faces and mouth, what Vipers they are. Rather than lead, they’re dragging a woman about 30 years old, her hair is ruffled, and her dress untidy and she is weeping as if she had been ill-treated. They throw her at Jesus feet as if she were a bundle of rags or dead body. And she remains there crouched with her head resting on her arms, which hide it and are like a cushion between it in the ground. Master, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Her husband loved her, and ensured that she lacked nothing. She was the queen in her house, and she has been unfaithful to him, because she is a vicious, ungrateful, sinner and profaner. She is an adulteress and as such is to be stoned. Moses ordered so in his law, he orders us to stone such women like unclean animals, and they are unclean because they betray faith and the man who loves them and takes care of them. And because like Earth never sated, they always crave for lust. They are worse than prostitutes because without the sting of need, they give themselves to satisfy their lewdness. They are corrupted and corrupters. They are to be sentenced to death. Moses said so. What have you to say master? Jesus who had stopped speaking at a tumultuous arrival of the Pharisees, and had looked at the pack of angry men with piercing eyes and then had lowered them on the depressed woman thrown at his feet is silent. Still sitting He is bent, with His fingers He begins to write on the stones of the porch covered with the dust raised by the wind. While they speak, He writes, Master, we are speaking to you listen to us reply to us. Have you not understood? This woman has been caught in the very act of committing adultery in her house and the bed of her husband. She has polluted it with her luxury. Jesus is writing. But this man is a fool. Don’t you see that He does not understand anything, that He is drawing signs on the dust like a poor fool. Master for the sake of Your Name speak. Let your wisdom reply to our question. We repeat it this woman lacked nothing. She had clothes, food, love, and she has been unfaithful. Jesus continues writing. She lied to the man who trusted her with mendacious lips she greeted him and went to the door with him smiling. She then open the secret door and let her lover in. And while her husband was away working for her, like an unclean animal, she wallowed in her lewdness. Master she is a desecrator of the law, as well as her nuptial bed. She is a rebel, a blasphemer. Jesus is writing. He writes, and cancels with His sandal shod foot, what He has written and writes farther on, turning around slowly to find more room. He looks like a little boy playing. But what He writes are not playful words. He has written user, false irreverent son, fornicator, murder, desecrator of the law, thief, lustful usurper, unworthy husband and father, blasphemer, rebellious to God, adulterer. The words are written over and over again. While new accusers speak. Well master your opinion, this woman is to be judged. She must not contaminate the earth with her weight. Her breath is poison that upsets hearts. Jesus stands up and with what a face. His eyes flashed like lightning striking the accusers. He holds His head so upright, that He looks even taller. And He is so severe and solemn, that He seems a king on His throne. With stern countenance, and not even the least trace of a smile on His lips or in His eyes, He glares with such eyes at the crowds with which withdraw as they would before two sharp blades. He stares at them one by one. With such searching intensity that frightens. Those who are stared at try to withdraw into the crowd and hide. Their circle thus widens and breaks up, as if it were mined by hidden power. He finally speaks. If there is one of you, who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her. And His voice sounds like thunder while His eyes flash even more brightly. Jesus has folded His arms across His chest, and remains there as straight as a judge awaiting. His eyes give no peace, they search, penetrate and accuse. First one, then two, then five, then in groups, all the people present go away with lowered heads. Not only the Scribes and the Pharisees, but also those who were previously around Jesus and others who had approached Him to hear His opinion in the sentence. And both the former group and the latter had had joined together to abuse the guilty woman and demand her lapidation. Jesus is left alone with Peter and John. I do not see the other apostles. Jesus has resumed writing while the flight of the accusers is taking place, and He now writes, Pharisees, vipers, supplicores of rottenness, liars, traders, enemies of God, revelators of His Word. When the court is completely empty, and there is a solemn silence in it, only the rustling of the wind and the murmur of a little fountain in the corner can be heard. Jesus raises His head and looks, His countenance is now peaceful. He is sad, but no longer angry. He then looks at the woman still prostrated and weeping at His feet. He gets up, He adjusts His mantle as if He were to set off. He beckons to the two apostles to go to the exit. When He is alone, He calls the woman. Woman, listen to me. Look at me. He repeats His order, because she doesn’t dare look up. Woman we are alone. Look at me. The poor wretch raises her face, then tears and dust have turned into a mask of dejection. Woman, where are now those who are accusing you. Jesus is speaking in a low voice with gravity full of pity. His head and body are lightly bent forward towards so much misery. And His eyes are full of an indulgent restoring expression. Did no one condemn you? The woman replies sobbing, no one master. Neither do I condemn you. Go and do not sin anymore. Go home and behave in such a way that you may be forgiven by God and by the man you offended. And do not trespass on the mercy of the Lord. Go. And He helps her to get up taking her by the hand. But He does not bless. Neither does He greet her with the greeting of peace. He looks at her going away. Her head lowered and slightly staggering in her shame. And when she disappears, He sets off Himself with the two disciples.” So that’s the description and then there follows a teaching. Jesus says, What hurt me was the lack of charity and sincerity in the accusers. Not because they lied in accusing. The woman was really guilty. But they were insincere being scandalized at something they themselves had committed 1000s of times, and that only greater cunning and better luck had allowed to remain concealed. The woman at her first sin had not been so cunning and lucky. But none of the accusers both male and female, because also women accused her in their hearts. Even if they did not raise their voices were none of them were free from sin. I said in the Gospel, it is what comes from the heart that contaminates man. He is an adulterer who commits the act. And also he who desires the act, and craves for it with all his might. both he who sins and he wishes to sin are lustful. It is not sufficient not to do evil, it is also necessary not to desire to do it. He who cherishes central thoughts and excite central feelings by means of literature and performances. And we could add all the modern technology of today sought for such purposes and through pernicious habits is equally impure as he who commits the sin materially. I was not unaware of the hearts of those Pharisees and scribes, were of the hearts of those people who had joined them and insulting the guilty women, sinners against God and their neighbor. They had sinned against faith against their parents, against their neighbor and above all, they had committed many sins against their own wives. If by means of a miracle, I had ordered their blood to write their sins on their foreheads, among the many charges of adulterer, by deed or by desire would have been would have reigned supreme. I said it is what comes from the heart that contaminates man. And with the exception of My heart, there was no one among the judges whose heart was pure. They lacked sincerity and charity, not even their being like her in their hunger for lust induce them to be charitable. It was I who was charitable to the dejected woman, I the only one who should have been disgusted with her. But remember this, the Kinder one is, the more compassionate one is to culprits. One is not to be lenient to the fault, no. But one has to be indulgent to weak people who have not resisted temptation. So the condemnation is of the sin, but not of the sinner. Man, oh, more than a fragile read, and a thin vine, he is easily inclined to yield to temptation, and to cling to whatever may make him hope to find solace. Because many times sin is committed, owing to such search for comfort. I therefore say that he who has no love for his wife, or for his own daughter, is 90% responsible for the sin of his wife or of his daughter, and will have to answer for them. You are beings gifted with reason and guided by Divine Law and a moral law. To degrade yourself to the behavior of savages or animals should horrify your great pride. But pride which in this case would be also useful, is used by you for completely different matters. I sent the two disciples away before calling the woman as I did not wish to increase her mortification with the presence of two witnesses. Learn oh pitiless men, no matter how guilty a person is, they are to be treated with respect and charity. You must not rejoice at their annihilation. You must not be pitiless. Not even with curious glances. Have mercy on those who fall. To the woman I pointed out the way she should follow to redeem herself, to go back to her house, to ask humbly to be forgiven, and to obtain forgiveness through an upright life. Not to yield any more to the flesh, nor to trespass on divine goodness and human kindness. In order not to expiate more severely than at present for two or many sins. God forgives and He forgives because He is goodness. But man, although I said forgive your brother 70 times seven is not capable of forgiving twice. I did not wish her peace and I did not give her My blessing because she was not fully detached from her sin as required to be forgiven. And her flesh and unfortunately not even in her heart. There was no nausea for sin. When Mary Magdalene saved my word, she became disgusted with sin and came to me full of goodwill to change completely. But this woman still hesitated between the voices of the flesh and those of the spirit. She was not even repentant. She was only dejected and frightened. I was not foolish in forgiving. I did not say what I said to other souls who might had forgiven because they were fully repentant. But I gave that soul time and possibility to arrive at repentance and holiness, if she wishes to receive them. And as a lesson for my apostles, this is to teach them it is necessary to have patient mercy to give souls the time to recover and fortify themselves. Not every soul recovers instantaneously from its wounds. Some do so by successive stages, which are often slow and subject to relapses. It does not befit a spiritual doctor to reject, condemn, frighten them. If you drive them away, they will bound back and throw themselves again into the arms of false friends and masters. Always Open your arms and hearts to poor souls, so that they may find a new a true and holy confidant, on whose knees they do not feel ashamed to weep. If you condemn them, depriving them of spiritual assistance, you will make them more and more unhealthy and weak. If you cause them to be frightened of you and of God, how will they be able to write raise their eyes to you and to God. Jesus teaches us and we’ll pray that today, forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And so we come here to Mass as sinners, asking for His mercy. Coming to receive Him in Holy Communion, recognizing that we are sinners, and asking for the grace also, as we receive His mercy, to be instruments of mercy for others, especially those who have sinned against us. Remember not the events of the past. See, I am doing something new. Jesus, we trust in You. Amen.