By Fr Donald Chambers
Pondering today’s gospel reading of the woman caught committing adultery (Jn 8: 1–11), I sense three protagonists and one antagonist on the stage of Jesus’ mission as mentioned in the Synod Preparatory Document (17–21).
The primary actor is Jesus. He “pays attention to those who are separated from God (sinners and the poor) and those abandoned by the community” such as the woman.
The second actor is the crowd. They are the people who follow Jesus along the journey in the hope of a sign and a word of salvation.
The third actor is the figure of the apostles. Jesus calls them from the beginning to mediate authoritatively the crowd’s relationship with Jesus as the Revealer of God’s Kingdom.
On the stage, “If Jesus is absent… then the Church becomes a contract between the apostles and the crowd…Without the apostles…the relationship with the evangelical truth is broken, and the crowd…remains exposed to a myth or an ideology about him. Without the crowd, the apostles’ relationship with Jesus becomes corrupted into a sectarian and self-referential form of religion…”
There is an extra actor, the antagonist, whose goal is to separate the three actors. The aim is to obstruct the common synodal journey by the indifference that is manifested in “religious rigor, of moral injunctions… the seduction of a worldly political wisdom” that takes precedence over a discernment of spirits.
In today’s gospel, the scribes and Pharisees are the antagonists who attempt to separate the woman (crowd) from Jesus’ mission of mercy. Similarly, our inner antagonist potentially disrupts the synodal journey because of our indifference and coldness to the marginalised (crowd).
The Lenten season of repentance and conversion provides a healing remedy to overcome our inner antagonist.