5th Sunday of Lent, Year C, 16
Things are not always as simple as they at first appear to be. Today’s Gospel is a perfect example of a passage that has layers of meaning and application.
On the surface, this is apparently just another confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees and scribes with an adulterous woman caught in the crossfire. But, she is only a pawn. The Pharisees and scribes are not really concerned about her or her sin but about Jesus’ answer to their challenge. If he agrees with the Mosaic Law, he is in conflict with the Romans who forbade the Jews to pass or carry out a death sentence, and revealing that his mercy and compassion are limited. If he lets her go unpunished for this capital offense against the Mosaic Law, he will be seen as “soft on crime” and in conflict with his Jewish heritage. It seems to be a “no win” situation. But Jesus turned the tables by making the interpreters and keepers of the Law face their own sinfulness before passing judgment on someone else.