On this Wednesday in the second week of Advent, the appointed Gospel reading for the daily prayer of the Church is taken from the Gospel according to St. John. It is the familiar story of the woman who was caught in adultery:
Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, sir.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.’ (Jn. 8: 2-11).
This passage makes 2 key points: (1) everyone of us is a sinner, and (2) Jesus accepts us where he finds us, but he doesn’t expect us to stay there. Although John does not tell us what Jesus wrote, it would seem that he was enumerating other sins, and one by one they all depart—each one of them recognizing his sin. Then Jesus turns to the woman who was caught committing a sinful act. Jesus does not condemn her, but he does tell her “from now on do not sin again.” Jesus invites the woman to turn her life around. This reading is very appropriate for Advent, a season where we look back at Christ’s first coming, look forward to his second coming while we look for him in our midst today. Jesus knows that we all fall short, but once we encounter Christ, he invites us to turn our lives around and to follow him.
Let us pray: Lord, we are all sinners. Give us grace to realize our sinfulness and to turn our lives over to you in all things. Amen.
Next Sunday at 2 p.m., Bishop Doyle will dedicate the new Robert L. and Ann Moody Activity Center at Trinity Episcopal School.
Adult Christian Education on Sundays at 11 am during Advent: The Scripture behind Handel’s Messiah.
Christmas Eve Eucharist, Rite II on 24 December at 4 P.M.
Please remember everyone on our Prayer List.
Your servant in Christ,
Fr. Chester J. Makowski+
St. Augustine of Hippo Episcopal Church
Galveston, Texas 77550