I have always been fascinated by the story of the woman who was caught in adultery in the gospel.
First of all, how did these men know that this woman was having sex with someone who was no her husband? It says she was “caught” which leads me to believe that some kind of male sexual dominance may have in fact been in play.
Nonetheless, I also wonder why the woman herself, though outnumbered, did not simply run away, or put up a struggle?
I think that facet of the story alone is enough for us to sit with today. Most of us sit in our own guilt. We are weighed down by all the things that we do wrong and often we don’t believe that we can be forgiven for the horrible things that we indeed have done.
For the woman in adultery, the act of being caught must’ve led her to believe that she has no choice but to accept the punishment that was about to be doled out. Much like a criminal who hears the word “guilty” in the courtroom the woman just sits looking downcast and not able to even consider that she has other options.
While I don’t want to sound trite or to think that we don’t own our sins, I do want us to consider that we can indeed be forgiven even for the most vile things that we have done. After all, if God is perfect than why could God not forgive us perfectly?
Most of us don’t believe that we can merit God’s forgiveness. A few different students have believed that they have hit a sin threshold. They believe that there is something that they have done that pushed them past the point of possible forgiveness. Ironically, many don’t see a similar fate for others. Others can be forgiven, but not me. I’m awful.
I think my dog Haze, has helped me believe in God’s forgiveness more and more. Haze is not always a good dog. And the other day was a clear example. Haze peed on my couch and Haze knew he had done something wrong. When I came in Haze hid, under the China cabinet and it took much coaxing to get him out of there. He needed to believe that I was going to forgive him. While I wasn’t happy with what he had done, it didn’t mean that I was going to send him to the pound either. (In fact, that night I made him a special treat).
But Haze needed to come out from hiding. And that was harder for him to do. He growled when I reached to him and finally he slowly came out. Head down, complete submission. I rubbed his ears and belly and let him know that he wasn’t all that bad. In fact, he was a pretty good dog most of the time.
We need to let ourselves off the hook now and again and re-visit the sacrament of penance in order to let ourselves “feel forgiven” and not simply wallow in our own misery. When Haze emergences from the crawl space I find him to be enthusiastic once again for life.
Maybe we too, need to act as enthusiastic because God can forgive us, moreover, God does forgive us.
And we need to accept that God forgives us. No matter what. For to doubt that God can forgive us is indeed a way for us to project onto to others the love that is always there for us.
Today may Jesus show you an eye of non-judgement and may you believe that you are forgiven by God for all that you do.