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April 3, Monday, Fifth Week of Lent II - Jesuits of North-West Africa Province | Society of Jesus

Drop the Stones, Drop the Lies and Embrace Mercy.

Monday, Fifth Week of Lent

April 3, 2017

Daniel 13:1-9,15-17,19-30,33-62 \\ John 8:1-11

By, *Fr. Evaristus EKwueme, SJ

In our First Reading today from the book of Daniel, we read the beautiful and conscientious story of Susanna and the two elders. Susanna a gorgeous and faithful woman is condemned to death at the words of two wicked elders. The old men had approached her for sex and she turned them down. In their shame, they made trump up charges against her counting on their age as evidence of her crime. At the intervention of the Holy Spirit through the young Daniel, she was saved. Daniel says to the old men, "you have grown old in wickedness .. and the sins of your earlier days have overtaken you, you with your unjust judgements, your condemnation of the innocent, your acquittal of guilty men." For this is contrary to the Lord's directive, "You must not put the innocent and the just to death." To set the innocent free and to set the guilty free is indeed the directive of the Lord. This is what we see in today's gospel from John. This is commonly known as the story of the adulterous woman. It can also be called the story of the wicked men, for such wickedness is as sinful as adultery.

Thus, our blind desire to cast the first stone is motivated by our secret effort to conceal and cover up our own sinful ways. Though we may be more sinful than the one we condemn, yet we cast the first stone. We secretly hope that in condemning another we draw attention away from our own evil ways. The men in the gospel passage did not ask themselves the question, 'What will happen to them, if I were the one being stoned?' Everyone desires mercy yet very much unwilling to give it to another. In the first reading the intervention of the Holy Spirit is the turning point of the story. Similarly, the intervention of Jesus in the gospel passage. God intervenes in our sinful world through each and everyone to make his mercy known. Daniel was disposed to let the spirit take control of him to ask truthful questions about the situation. Jesus equally asked the right questions in order to expose our wickedness that is common place.

"If there is one of you who had not sinned, let him/her be the first to throw a stone at her/him." Jesus is in no way condoning sin and sinful state, but he is rather condemning our outright desire and quickness to condemn another for the very sins that we are guilty. Like the men carrying stones, we all ought to walk away shamefully because we need Jesus to forgive our wickedness. Jesus says to the woman, "'Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?' 'No one, sir' she replied. 'Neither do I condemn you,' said Jesus 'go away, and do not sin anymore.'" Does this mean that she never sinned again in her life? There is no doubt that she has experienced true mercy and forgiveness. It is hard to imagine that she will continue to 'grow in wickedness' in condemning others but rather to be merciful just as Jesus is merciful, just as the Holy Spirit is merciful, just as the Father is merciful. We are therefore called to be truthful to ourselves about our sinfulness, to be merciful to others about their own sinfulness. We are called to drop the lies, to drop the stones and to embrace each other in mercy.

*Fr. Evaristus EKwueme, SJ, is a lecturer and the Dean at the Arrupe College Jesuit School of Philosphy and Humanities in Harare, Zimbabwe. 


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