Light of the world

Jesus bringing forgiveness and restoring the dignity
John 8

Jesus, the Master, reveals himself in his deeds. He is the light of the world (John 8:12). He showed this in the life of the woman who was brought to him to be condemned and stoned.

The light is the first gift of the Creator at the beginning of the Scriptures. Jesus says in an open way that he knows where he came from and where he is going to – what is his origin and what is the purpose (John 8:14).

The whole event took place in the Temple – in the holy House of God (John 8:2). Even today a church is the place where we can in special way experience God's grace and merciful action.

The woman in the Gospel is made an object and instrument to tempt and accuse Jesus. Those who should protect the Law of the Lord took over the role of Satan: they want to tempt Jesus.

The personal sin of the woman is in this wide structure where the masters of the Law make her an instrument and they use the Law itself to attack Jesus. This is the darkness.

On the other side there is light. Jesus is the light. St. Paul will experience such strong light so that all other things will lose their value. He wants only to get to know Jesus and the power of his resurrection. Similar could have been the experience of the accused woman.

Jesus was not only confirming her freedom from condemnation, he gave her a new mission. In her pain and fear he bowed down to write on the ground. Bowing he was close to her in her humiliation. He shows that he understand her fear – he will himself experience the closeness of condemnation and death, when he will be praying in the Gethsemane, on the Mount of Olives, where he that morning came from. He will be the one they want to stone at the end of the long chapter in the Gospel (John 8:59)

Jesus is writing with his finger on the ground (John 8:6). The divine finger is touching the dust of the ground out of which the human being was made from the beginning. Jesus knows our human nature. "He himself knew what was in everyone" (John 2:25).

The way Jesus addresses the accused sinner renews her dignity and defines her mission. "Woman!" (John 8:10) is the word Jesus uses in St. John's Gospel only to talk to his Mother in Cana of Galilee (2:4) and on the cross (19:26).

The mission: "Go your way!" (John 8:11) is very significant because "to go" in the Bible means "to live". Jesus gives to woman in the temple – who was on the edge of death – the experience of his resurrection.

For reflection:
Have I ever experienced a great fear?
Am I at peace with God?
Is there one biggest thing my conscience accuses me of?
Where I need the power of Christ's resurrection in my life?

9 Aug 2011
Niko Bilić SJ