Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Daniel 13:41-62 + John 8:1-11
March 22, 2021
“Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”
When Jesus commands the woman caught in adultery not to “sin any more”, He has clearly judged that she is a sinner. But He has not condemned her. That distinction between judgment and condemnation is important in our day because some suggest that one should never judge others.
When one human person bears authority over another, she or he has the right to judge the other. Whether it’s a parent judging her child’s actions, a courtroom judge overseeing a legal case, or a teacher judging the behavior of students, it’s part of the natural order of things for one person to judge another.
The same is true in the supernatural order of things. For example, the word “bishop” literally means “overseer” (or alternately, “supervisor”), and a necessary part of his oversight is making judgments about those under him. Another example is the priest in the confessional. While it’s largely up to the penitent to “self-report” his or her sins, the priest may judge by means of discreet questions the seriousness of confessed sins and whether the penitent is truly contrite.
In the case of today’s Gospel Reading, Jesus twice judges the woman caught in adultery. On the one hand, He judges that she is a sinner. But on the other, He judges her to be contrite and ready to reform her life. To that latter end, He lets her go. He does the same for us when we also are contrite and ready to move beyond our sins. Yet He also gives us His grace to help us in the often difficult work of moving out of and beyond our sins.