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Jn 8:1-11



photo: fr tam nguyen


An elderly woman, who was absent-mindedly roaming the streets at night, was caught by neighbors, was physically hurt, and tied neck, arms and legs with a huge rope to a tree. The folks claimed she was a wandering witch. It turned out the woman was depressed after the death of her husband a few weeks before. The pitiful sight of the trembling, stammering woman was caught on camera by a concerned neighbor.


Jesus witnessed a similarly repulsive scene as an adulterous woman, dragged by a hypnotic crowd, came into his presence. The crowd was asking the Lord to pass sentence on the woman, as the Mosaic law demanded, so that they could start lynching her to death.


But what transpired between Jesus and the crowd? Jesus did not seek to gratify the desires of the mob before him. He did not also seek to pacify their heightened emotions. The Lord remained silent and when he spoke, he simply addressed the hearts of his listeners. Yes, they could go on with their murderous plan, but first, they must be sure they had pure hearts. Apparently none of them was sinless, as one by one, they turned to go home.


What happened between Jesus and the woman, now left alone, perhaps trembling and stammering as the suspected witch in the story above? The gospel does not tell us. And the gospel will not reveal to us the very personal conversation Jesus had with the sinful woman. I think that in the presence of Jesus, this woman humbly admitted her sins, asked forgiveness, begged for mercy, and sought help towards a new and transformed life. With no one else to help her, she put her trust in the only man who accompanied her instead of judging her.


I am tempted to think that this was perhaps, the first ever confession. For this encounter shows all that happens in confession. We come as sinners, condemned either by others or by our own guilty hearts, and we remain alone with Jesus. The Lord disperses the crowd so that only he can be present before the sinner. With no angry voice, no condemnatory word, no bashing or shaming, we sinners gain the confidence to reveal to the Lord our weakness, our downfall, our remorse and our shame. But instead of cries of death, vengeance and punishment, the Lord Jesus forgives everything and encourages us: “Neither do I condemn you; go, but do not sin anymore.”


Are you afraid of going to Confession? Are you embarrassed to reveal to the priest your sins? Should you not instead long to be with the only one whose justice is mercy and whose forgiveness restores and gives life? Go to Confession. Go to Jesus!