There has been much written about this Gospel story, about it being a story of second chances…a story of new beginnings. Some scholars argue about the final line of this Gospel, as most translations have Jesus saying “neither do I condemn you, be on your way and sin no more.” However scholars point out that some ancient Greek texts do not actually contain the Greek words “sin no more” but rather the ancient texts use an archery term referring to “taking better aim”. It would seem then that Jesus encouraged the woman to be on her way and take better aim with her life.
Perhaps this is a moment in the church for “her” to “take better aim” as she moves forward into the future. Perhaps it is no coincidence that on the first Sunday of Pope Francis’ pontificate, the Gospel story was about a “woman”, demeaned and disgraced, about to be violently murdered…a Gospel story about the place and treatment of women in Jesus’ culture and society and Jesus’ refusal to participate in the systematic oppression and violent treatment of women. I cannot but help wonder if this Gospel story does not in fact call us to question the place and status of women in the church and in the world? Perhaps there is a lesson for all of us, especially men and in particular the clergy and religious leaders!
In today’s Gospel…just as Jesus challenged the “law” and the religious leaders…so too we are called to do the same! We live, still, in a world where women are bought and sold…where they are seen but not listened to…where true lasting and substantive justice and equality remain denied to women. It is quite clear that the men who drag her before Jesus include local religious leaders…and it is Jesus who takes a stand and ends the violence that was about to be done to her. And while the official church has been vocal on civil and human rights abuses of women around the world she remains far too silent on the just and meaningful place and role of women within the church!
How do I treat women in my life? What do I really think about the role of women in church and society? Do my views on women and their role and place in church and society truly reflect Gospel values? What would Jesus think about my views?