This story of the woman caught in adultery and Jesus’ forgiveness of her, is one of the best examples of the mercy of God that the Scriptures present to us. One of its greatest strengths is the simplicity of the story thus making it very easy for us to relate to its deeper message. It is not just about the sin of adultery, but about all sins, and God’s response to them. We see in Jesus a lived example of the heart of our Father in Heaven and His desire to repair hurts and broken relationships, not to add further hurt and isolation to those who are no longer capable of coping with such things.

This is at the heart of what mercy is all about. God does not want to hold our sins against us and use them later on as bargaining chips to try and get his own way. So often we can fall into this sort of a trap unless we are willing to truly let go and forgive completely those who sin against us. The great challenge is to imitate the mercy of Christ and deal with others’ sins in the same way that He so generously deals with ours!

Generally speaking, people are usually wiling to admit their faults and to ask forgiveness where necessary. There is no point in not forgiving them! Sometimes we say that we need to teach them a lesson – but what is the basis for this claim. God never uses it on us! Yes, at the times when sins have consequences, we have to accept them and learn to live with them as best we can. But there is never any need to prolong these consequences out of a sense of moral duty to ‘teach someone a lesson.’

The most important lesson we can learn in this situation is how to have mercy! As the beatitude tells us, ‘ … mercy will be shown to those who show mercy to others!’ This would seem to mean that we asking God to punish us for our sins if we are unwilling to be merciful to those who sin against us.

When was the last time that I had the opportunity to be merciful towards someone? Was I generous in showing them mercy? Can I improve on my response at that time?

Lord Jesus, you promise mercy to those who are merciful and forgiveness to those who are willing to forgive others. Help me to be a more merciful and forgiving person!