Like in the previous message, today’s gospel reading, John 8; 1-11, carries a message of forgiveness, and depicts Christ’s good sense of humour. Today Christ puts before us a great puzzler- “…. He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” That was a great challenge to the teachers of Law (the scribes) and the Pharisees, who had gone to Christ convincingly and had expected that they would have his green light to put the woman caught in the act of adultery to death. They couldn’t help it, so they left quietly in shame. This gesture tells us pretty much about Christ’s concern about sinners. He is always willing to forgive and accept a sinner back as long as the sinner is willing to come to him. Though the scribes and Pharisees had gone to Christ to seek his permission before they would carry out as the alleged Law of Moses dictated, but that wasn’t actually their intended purpose. Their purpose was to put Christ to test- a decoy to ensnare Christ with the religious and civil authorities. However, Christ being smarter than they were turned the challenge against them. They buried their faces on the ground and disappeared in the thin air.
A reflection on why the scribes and Pharisees suddenly walked away unnoticed is a reminder to us that Christ is a symbol of peace and in whom the sole power to judge resides with. Most often we pass judgments to others as if the power to judge rests on our shoulders. And when we judge, our judgments are always wrong and harmful to the victim- most times they tarnish the image of the victim(s). Wrong judgment is an indication of lack of justice, and that detracts people from moving forward. Though it’s always easy to judge, but if we reflect on the Christ’s situation and response as were portrayed in the gospel today we will understand in a better way that we are not better off than the people we judge and crucify.
Today’s gospel message is somewhat linked to the sensational jargon that is in vogue in Nigeria now- My oga at the top. The news filtered in yesterday that the commandant had been suspended. It was all to the extent the commandant’s gaffe was overblown. While the victim sits at his home licking his wounds some mercenary merchants are fattening their pockets off the situation. One would then wonder if there was any particular motive for escalating such an incident like there had never been any of its kind. We are aware of incident(s) where presidential nominee(s) couldn’t recite Nigeria’s national anthem or (and) pledge and yet they got the job. And Nigerians and the media did nothing. It will not be unusual that even the minister who suspended the commandant doesn't know his ministry’s web site. Interview some of those people who mouth off the commandant and ask them the same question about their organizations and they will fail. Even some Nigerians in Diaspora took part in the caricature of the commandant. I have seen some young Nigerians abroad who don’t know the name of their village. Yet they talk too. However, as St Thomas Aquinas said, Justice without mercy is cruelty; and mercy without justice is ruin, destruction,” I hope we learn how to pardon and give a new start on people’s lives.