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The Adulteress: back on the path of life

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 St. John the Evangelist, in Chapter 8 of his Gospel, tells of a particular encounter of Jesus: the one of the woman caught in adultery who is brought to Him by the scribes and Pharisees of Jerusalem.


Jesus is seated in the temple teaching the men and women who approach Him to understand the Scriptures. He is a God that doesn’t “dwell” far from man, but a God that is with man, among men and within his very existence. He is a God that never ceases to give each one of us the opportunity of establishing a relationship with Him and making it grow.

What prompts God to be with man is Love! It is His Love that wants to dwell in us, making us partakers of His divinity.

This is what Jesus continually reminds Luisa of, when during her contemplating she realizes that so much distance lies between her and her beloved Jesus.

But her Master reassures her, repeating that being united to His Humanity means being already at the doors of His Divinity, because His Humanity is a mirror for the soul in which the Divinity is reflected; and whoever is found in the reflection of this mirror their entire being is transformed into love, because everything that emanates from the creature, even the movement of the eyes and the lips, the thoughts and everything else, should all be love and done for love, because God’s Essence is all love. Where God finds love He absorbs it all in Himself and the soul dwells securely in Him, as if in its own palace.


The scribes and Pharisees bring to Jesus a woman accused of adultery. Upon listening to them, it would seem that these experts of the Jewish Law wanted only to properly apply it in judging the woman. But what is their true intention? Do they who are the most knowledgeable concerning the word of the Law really want to ask Jesus for advice or counsel? These men are certainly not interested in Jesus’ judgment, neither do they recognize the Lord as the Messiah; they do not respect Him, listen to Him, or follow in His footsteps. Rather, as on past occasions and in others to come, they are searching for a pretext, as St. John the Evangelist asserts, to trip Him up in what He says and in His speech, using the Law of God given to the people of Israel through Moses. A pretext that could publicly accuse Him, cause Him to be arrested and remove Him from their midst. How will the Master reply to professionals of the Law, the scribes and Pharisees, who usually set out to rigorously obey the divine prescriptions passed on by Moses? Their logic is simple, inexorable and at the same time cynical and icy: according to the Law, when an offense is committed and the guilty is accused, he or she must be punished. Offense, accusation, condemnation, punishment: no other logic exists, no other possibility, no other justice.

How horrible falsehood is! For Jesus it is unbearable. Jesus was Himself a victim of  the falsehood of the scribes and Pharisees.

In a writing of November 1921, Luisa tells of Jesus’ thoughts concerning the falsehood of the scribes and Pharisees.

The pain that afflicted Jesus the most in His Passion was the falsehood of the Pharisees. They feigned justice and were the most unjust, pretended to be holy and respectful of the law and order and were the most perverse, disobeying every rule and order. While they pretended to honor God, they honored thelmselves, their own interests and conveniences. The light could not penetrate them because their false ways shut the doors, and falsehood was the double throw key that locked them into death, obstinately preventing even a slight ray of light to shine through.

Jesus is more attracted toward the most perverse sinners who are sincere rather than those who are good but false. Loathsome is the person who apparently does good, pretends to be good and prays, but inside covets evil and his own interests, and while praying his heart is far from Jesus and when in the act of doing good he thinks of how to satisfy his brutal passions. Furthermore, a false person, apparently saying and doing good, isn’t capable of giving light to others, having locked the doors; and so he or she behaves like a devil in person that many times, under the appearance of goodness, attracts another person who witnesses the good and at the best moment of the journey falls headlong into more grevious sins. For Jesus the temptations that are less dangerous are those under the appearance of guilt rather than of goodness. Thus, it is safer to deal with perverse people than with good people who are false. How much poison they hide! How many souls they poison! If it weren’t for falsehood and if everyone would make themselves be known for who they really are, then evil would be uprooted from the face of the earth and no one would be deceived.


“They placed her in the middle ...”: the woman is surrounded, fingers are pointed at her as she awaits the only possible judgment prescribed by the Law, that of condemnation. We know nothing of this woman: her name is not mentioned, she doesn’t say a word, she isn’t given the chance to speak, she is never called into question by her accusers or by none of the men who dragged her there. Nothing is said of her emotional state and no one asks her the reason for her behavior. “This woman ...”, “... women like her ...”: the Pharisees and the scribes present her to Jesus in complete anonymity with the most shrewd indifference, almost assuming a tone of contempt, unconcern, and repulsion.


They turn to Jesus and ask “What do You say?” Jesus’ reply brings the accusers to face up to their own state of sin. He is mindful of not delving into technical or specific considerations about the Law and doesn’t question it as such. Instead, He limits Himself to pronouncing a condition according to which the Law foresees applying the sentence: that the executor be without sin. “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her”. The person who has no guilt, no blame, who doesn’t harbour resentment, who loves always and freely, who never feels hatred or envy, who isn’t prey to temptations, isn’t a slave of anything or anyone ... this person, Jesus says, may be the first to throw the stone, launch his accusations, feel he has the duty and right to judge his brother or sister. None of the bystanders present made a move except to go away, one after the other.


Only Jesus and the woman are left. She is still there, in the middle, but not “at the center” of judgment. She is no longer surrounded by those who wish to overtake her and cancel her out. Now she is the center of Jesus’ attention, of His gaze of love and compassion and in the middle of a space filled with mercy and hope, the space of a new justice. Jesus restores her dignity and allows her to experience honor, respect, attention, and love. The woman isn’t left along again, rather Jesus questions her about her life and approaches her in a welcoming way. She no longer is on the ground. The Lord Himself helps her back on her feet; and not only, He even stands up together with her, in the dimension of a new resurrection. A resurrection which is the sign of a new belonging.


“Woman!”: it is God calling her by name and she now belongs totally and exclusively to Him. It is God who is calling me, calling us by name, and I, each one of us, belong(s) completely to Him.

Jesus doesn’t ask the woman for any explanations concerning her behavior. Of course, He doesn’t pretend that nothing happened, but at the same time He doesn’t dig into a past sin that has already been cancelled, forgiven; and so He does not condemn her. The transgression isn’t denied, but it is Mercy that takes the place of condemnation. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore!”: in other words, she begins to walk her life’s path again, she begins to live again! Jesus wagers on the life and future of this woman. Jesus is the God who bets on and believes in the life and future of every human being, who bets on and believes in our renewed chances to do good!

Jesus’ forgiveness healed this woman and transformed her into a new creature, now capable of living in a new and indissoluble bond with Him.

The forgiveness offered to the adulteress is the same that Jesus offers each person, and it is the manifestation of His glory capable of transforming man’s life.

Jesus’ work is His “I love you” pronounced for man.

The words “I love you” are everything! “I love you” is love, veneration, respect, heroisim, sacrifice, and faith in the one to whom it is said. “I love you” is possessing Him who encloses the “I love you”. “I love you” is a small expression, but it weighs as much as all eternity. “I love you” encloses everything, encompasses everyone, spreads out, squeezes in, rises high, descends to the very bottom, is impressed everywhere, and never stops.

It’s origin is eternal. In the “I love you” the Heavenly Father generated His Son and the Holy Spirit. In the “I love you” the ‘Eternal Fiat’ brought forth all of Creation, and in the “I love you” He forgave sinful man and redeemed him. Therefore, in the “I love you” the soul finds everything in God and God finds everything in the soul. The value of “I love you” is infinite, is full of life, energy, never tires, overcomes all things and triumphs over everything.

The Lord wishes to see this “I love you” for Him upon our lips, in our hearts, our thoughts, sufferings and joys, in the food we eat, in everything. The life of His “I love you” must be longlasting in us, and His ‘Fiat’ that reigns in us will seal us with the divine “I love you”.

don Marco
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