The scribes and Pharisees wanted to make the adulterous woman stand before Jesus as an example of sinners who ought to be condemned for transgressing the law of the Lord. She was indeed guilty, for she was caught in the act of adultery, and so she deserved to die. However, when pressed for an answer about what is to be done to her, the Lord Jesus replied: “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” But who is without sin? “All men are sinners and are deprived of the glory of God.” By his words, the Lord made them realize that they (and all of us) are also sinners and they (and we) should see ourselves in the adulterous woman. After all, is it not true that all sin is adultery?
The relationship (or covenant) between God and his people is one of marriage. “I will be your God and you will be my people” is similar to that of marriage between a man and a woman: “I will be yours and you will be mine.” Israel was the spouse of God as the Church is the bride of Christ. Thus, belonging to God’s people, we should love the Lord our God with all our soul, all our mind, all our heart, and all our strength. We should love the Lord as a bride loves her husband. And so, when we sin, we do not love the Lord with all our being. We do not love the Lord as he deserves to be loved by us. Instead, we divide our love and give a portion of it to something or someone else. Thus, sin is a spiritual adultery. Our fidelity and love for God becomes a divided love.
And so by saying “The one who has no sin should cast the first stone,” the Lord made everybody realize of our common sinful condition. He did this not to shame the Pharisees and the scribes. Rather, he did this in order to invite them to come to him and stay with him for he does not come to condemn but to give life: “See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” But realizing their guilt before God, “in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders.” They did not do as the woman did. She remained before the Lord while the others went away one by one. And this is unfortunate for had they remained, they would have heard the Lord say to them what he told the woman: “Neither do I condemn you. Go and from now on, do not sin anymore.” Remember the fig tree that was given another chance to bear fruit? The Lord was willing to give that same chance to the adulterous woman. He was also willing to give that same chance to all of us if only we do not turn our backs to him and go away. He wills to give us that second chance and so we should remain with him: “Remember not the things of the past, the things of long ago consider not…for I put water in the desert and rivers in the wasteland for my chosen people to drink, the people whom I formed for myself, that they might announce my praise.”
Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!