Our Old Testament reading from the Book of Daniel describes a tale of two older men with evil intentions who accused a virtuous young woman named Susanna of attempting to commit adultery with them. The truth was that they attempted to assault her, and she resisted. Their anger at her caused them to accuse her falsely. Since the penalty for adultery was death, the leaders of the people condemned her. Susanna cried out to God, who heard her prayer. God ‘stirred up the holy spirit” in a young man named Daniel, who convinced the leaders of the people to investigate further and find clear evidence before executing judgement. He separated the two accusers, and asked them questions which caused them to incriminate themselves. Their own words convicted them of perjury. Upon discovering that they had lied, Susanna was vindicated, and those two evil men were put to death.
Our gospel reading today is the familiar story of “the woman caught in adultery”. In this story, the self-righteous scribes and Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. Interestingly, they did not bring along with them the man who was committing adultery with her! In this famous story, the Pharisees ask Jesus to condemn the woman, but Jesus’ response was silence as he stooped down and wrote something on the ground. What was he writing? We can only speculate! Perhaps he was writing the sins that those self-righteous men had committed. Regardless of what Jesus was writing on the ground, his challenge to them had an impact. Jesus said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” One by one those men dropped their stones and walked away. Jesus asked the woman, “Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” was her answer. Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”
The older men in our Old Testament reading today accused Susannah to cover up their own sin. In our gospel, the Pharisees’ intent in prosecuting the woman caught in adultery is not to levy justice, but to test Jesus! But the Lord “Saves Those Who Hope In Him.”
“Go and sin no more.” This is what Jesus says to me every time I go to confession! How great is the mercy of our God who gave us the gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation! Be sure to experience the Sacrament before Easter!