‘When the battle becomes too much for me, I throw myself like a child into the arms of the Heavenly Father and trust I will not perish…I do not lose heart. I trust God’s grace, which abounds in the worst misery.’ (606)
Bad shame can trap us; the traditions of men are tricky. They may have truth on their side, but they forfeit the main rule which governs Jesus’ morality—Mercy for the sin-sick, who in turn extend Mercy out of a recognition of their own moral vulnerability.
How Jesus handled the woman caught in adultery exemplifies Mercy’s rule.
(Jn. 8:1-11) She had violated herself and others in adultery, a serious offense. Such a sin could cost you your life, a truth that the religious teachers and leaders knew and set before Jesus as to expose His aim to uphold both Mercy and Truth.
First, why is the woman brought before Jesus, and not also her male, (presumably) married partner? That may help decode the hearts of the religious. She had no advocate in contrast to the man and his family; in that culture, women (especially single ones) had almost no power and yet were thought to be nearly all-powerful in their ability to seduce men! I believe that Jesus is redressing this inequity here by advocating for her, the weaker party.
He did so by appealing to the moral vulnerability of all the accusers: ‘If you have never had a sinful, adulterous thought, then kill her; let the pure serve judgment!’ Perhaps drawing upon His definition of adultery which equates lustful thoughts with actions (Matt. 5:27-30), he commanded an examination of conscience. To their credit, the men heeded his challenge. Each dropped his stone.
As far as we know, only the woman held out her open hand for Mercy. Though set free from their condemnation, she was only freed from the sin of adultery by Jesus, who commanded her: ‘Go and leave your life of sin.’ (v.11) We presume she did. Mercy cleared away her accusers (the traditions of men), and made a way for her repentance.
Jesus’ love renders us all unfaithful; none are only true. Mercy frees us from ignorant accusers and frees us for a progressively true love born of Mercy.
“How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to help remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Lk. 6:42)
‘Jesus, we want to see reality the way You do. Give us Your eyes of Mercy, first to recognize our own unfaithfulness then to extend Mercy to others based on Your generous Mercy to us. Help us here, O God. Cleanse our adulterous, accusatory hearts; set us free for Mercy. Make us especially mindful of disempowered ones who are under the judgment of the powerful. Let Mercy have her perfect way in our hearts.’