Monday, March 14, 2016

How to be merciful

In today's gospel, the people bring to Jesus a woman caught committing adultery. They want to stone her to death and ask Jesus about her punishment.


Jesus is caught in a hard place. If Jesus stops them from stoning her, he goes against the law of Moses that calls them to put to death anyone committing adultery. If he allows them to stone her, he disobeys Roman law that prohibits Jews from imposing capital punishment.


Instead of getting caught in their trap, Jesus kneels down and writes something on the ground. We do not know what Jesus wrote, but the people who brought the woman slowly leave one by one.


When Jesus finishes writing, he stands up and asks the woman if anyone condemns her. The woman says none. So Jesus tells her that he does not condemn, but she should go and avoid this sin.


When I heard mass for today, the priest in his homily told us that Jesus gave the woman her dignity by being merciful. Instead of condemning and stoning her, Jesus gives her a chance to change and amend her life. But Jesus does not condone her sin because he tells her to avoid it.

How about us? Maybe we are quick to condemn people who seem guilty. Maybe instead of forgiving those who wronged us, we seek revenge. From the gospel today, we can follow Jesus and stop condemning those who fail. Instead of condemning them, we can help them on how to avoidsin.

Are we merciful to people? Yes, we show mercy when we give people better treatment or a second chance than what we think they deserve. Why should we be merciful? Because God is merciful to us, and as a sign of our love to God and our neighbor, we bestow the same mercy to the people we encounter.

Do we treat people with dignity? Yes, everyone has honor and dignity, so we treat people with the same respect that we give ourselves. How do we treat people with dignity? By not shaming them. In the gospel today, the people treated the woman shamefully by taking her to Jesus and wanting to stone her to death. Meanwhile, Jesus gave dignity to the woman and the people by not condemning them but still making them realize their wrongful actions.

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