Monday of the Fifth Week in Lent
(Daniel 13:1-9.15-17.19-30.33-62; John 8:12-20)
At the Seder Supper Jews recite a song called "Dayenu", Hebrew for “it would have been enough.” Each verse of the song tells of a wonder that God worked in bringing the Israelites from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land. The refrain after each verse is "Dayenu", that wonder alone would have been enough for them to believe. So the Jews gave praise to God for bringing their ancestors out of Egypt, for feeding them with manna in the desert, for pronouncing the Sabbath rest, etc. After listening to the gospel story today, we are inclined to say “Dayenu,” that judgment alone on behalf of the woman caught in adultery would have been enough for us to recognize Jesus as God’s Son. But, of course, there is so much more.
The Pharisees’ condemnation of the woman is patently unjust for several reasons. First, the punishment does not fit the crime. Granted that adultery is serious in a society where cohesion is necessary for survival. But it is also a sin especially susceptible to fallen human nature. Capital punishment for adultery is equivalent to beating a child for eating too much candy. Then, there is the question of the whereabouts of the man in the adulterous affair. Justice demands that he too be apprehended, tried, and duly punished. Finally, the Pharisees are using the woman as an arrow to shoot Jesus. Their fading away with Jesus’ challenge about casting the first stone indicates that the woman’s fate is inconsequential as long as the increasingly popular new master is discredited.
It is not hard to follow Jesus as we march onto to Holy Week. Indeed we should see ourselves as the crowd welcoming him into Jerusalem. But to make him our model every day of our lives, even when doing the right thing becomes a steep and rocky climb, requires committed faith. Seeing Jesus’ wisdom as well as his power and his love for others, we echo the Jews’ “Dayenu.” Any of these wonders would be enough for us to believe in him. But taken together, how can we doubt that he is worthy of allegiance?