Sunday, April 7, 2019

The Saving Silence

Image result for the adulterous woman in the bible
Reflection for 5th Sunday of Lent
(Is 43:16-21; Phil 3:8-14; Jn 8:1-11)
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” The action of God to recreate and bring forth a new order is emphasized in the first reading from the prophet Isaiah. Jesus fulfilled this prophecy today in the life of a woman caught in adultery.

“Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?” Jesus’ immediate response was surprising: Silence! It was such a great silence that its imprint was left on the ground. “Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.” It takes a lot of courage and power to be silent when surrounded by such bloodthirsty and treacherous people.

The sound of His silence roared; the dilemma of the accusers deepened. “And they continued to ask Him...” They needed words from Him to satisfy their treachery, but His silence became an arrow that pierced their hearts. By his silence, Jesus equally put Himself at a life-threatening risk since any of the stones could have landed on him. From the depth of His silence, He took upon Himself the death sentence of the woman and spoke on her behalf: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Now He has spoken, but ‘words of silence!’ The impatient and noisy accusers are drawn to silence, for their guilty consciences are exhumed. There was serene calmness hovering over all. The rhythmic sound of dropping stones filtered through the air. “They went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest...” The mark on the ground—the silence of Jesus—has won the day!

Then Jesus said to the woman, “neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.” Jesus is not an accuser but a Saviour. And He does it with gentleness and power (cf. Mt 12:18-21). The woman goes home with a new life, as if she was raised from the dead (cf. Heb 11:19). Now every other thing counts as loss, except the surpassing faith in Christ Jesus, the righteousness of God that depends on faith and the power of His resurrection from the dead (cf. Phil 3:8-10).

Encountering the sound of silence of Jesus is power and victory!

Fr Jude Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
Ss Peter & Paul Catholic Church,
Tedi, Lagos.
Sunday 7th April, 2019.