No one likes to be used. And yet, we are more than capable of using another human being as a scapegoat, a pawn, or to set an enduring example. Hitler, Stalin, Margaret Sanger, Jack Kevorkian, etc… are but a few of the master builders of the architects of the Culture of Death. These men and women were inspired by philosophers and pseudo-scientists such as Nietzsche, Darwin, Haeckel, Marx, Comte, Sartre and Freud. The list will only get longer as the family bond continues to fall apart and scientists (social, medical, political, military) insist on replacing our beloved Supreme Being with one of their own. They really believe they know better. Talk to one and you will see.
John Paul II would often state that “Man cannot be an object. He is always the subject.” He cannot be a means to an end, regardless of how beneficial the end (goal) is. His dignity, his worth, his value must be respected and preserved. In our world in which we are constantly re-defining our most valued gifts: gender, marriage, life, death, etc… we run the risk of throwing humanity under the bus. If nothing is sacred (given value from above), then it can be stepped on, thrown away and/or ripped apart.
The latest fight appears to be that of the term gender. The United Nations is debating, pushed on by Western nations, the definition of gender. They wish to include everything under the sun; that is, everything man made or “science made”. The Vatican and many under-developed nations, abused and used by powerful western nations for years, are against the proposal. The Church makes its arguments clear: “gender should never be reduced to someone’s sexuality or sexual tendency.” There are only two genders: man and woman.
In today’s Gospel, we are reminded of how we can and should treat others. This unknown woman, caught in the very act of adultery, is no longer a woman; she is, in the eyes of Pharisees and scribes, simply a prostitute. She no longer has the right to be called a woman. How in the world she was caught in “the very act” leaves me wondering about who was the “peeping Pharisee.” It reminds me of Suzanna’s accusers, men of authority, hiding in the bushes and watching her with lustful eyes (cf. Dn 13:1-62). Regardless, she is thrown in front of the Lord - not to be judged by the Lord, but to be used by them in order to trap the Lord. He doesn’t fall for it. They have abused their power, abused their religion and God with their fake piety and false sense of concern for the Law. The Lord goes after them! If anyone should be stoned, it should be them!
On the other hand, we should be very careful not to fall into the temptation of canonizing this woman. She has committed adultery now and in the past. She has ruined marriages and families. But there is something very beautiful about her. She is not kicking and screaming, nor is she throwing insults and injury towards her persecutors. Instead, she is silent, ashamed. She does not love herself and is convinced that she is getting what she deserves. She is need of compassion before conversion. For this reason, the Lord does not just let her go. He tells her, “I do not condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”
The Lord came into the world to give back the sinner their identity; to put a face on us, and to call us by name. We no longer have to be reduced to our sins or be known only by our sins. We can be known for who we truly are (children of God), and who we can truly be (Saints).
Let us ask the Lord to straighten us up, lift us up and help us on our way towards Him. We shall arrive! Each day is a new step towards our God, one day at a time.
Like the Aztec gods, the Lord wants our hearts, but without our death! "I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways!" (Ez 33:11)