Temptations for our own benefit

By Vinal Van Benthem | For The Compass | March 11, 2016

The woman was caught “… in the very act of committing adultery.” Did you ever wonder where the man involved was while all of this was going on? Perhaps he was right there, part of the crowd bringing the woman to Jesus for judgment. Certainly the people who caught the woman must have known who she was with. But this was a different time and people looked at things differently.

Or did they?

True, in this particular instance, we find an example of the place of women in a society where a woman is considered property and to commit adultery is to shame the man who “owns” (whether by marriage or by blood) her. But there’s something else going on as well.

Jim and John are in competition for partnership. John has some inside information about Jim that could make him look bad if the people on the promotion board knew about it. What should John do with that information?

Laura and Janene are tied for top salesperson and the bonus that comes with it. Janene accidently stumbles on a bit of information that could affect Laura’s credibility with her customers. If the information is true, it could definitely give her an advantage, but if it’s false it could wrongly destroy a woman’s reputation. How should Janene handle this?

The temptation is to make ourselves look good at the expense of someone else. Mary raises her hand in class: “Teacher, Johnny did ——— (you fill in the blank).” Parish committees fight over supplies and room assignments, insisting that the people on the “other” committee don’t work nearly as hard as they do. Politicians sling mud and hope that it will stick before it gets thrown back onto them. CIA operatives are outed. Government attorneys are fired. The list goes on and on.

Where was the man caught in adultery with the woman? Was he one of the people in the crowd? Could that be what Jesus was writing in the sand? If we had been standing there, would he have been writing about us?

Van Benthem is a member of the Secular Franciscan Order and a longtime pastoral minister, retreat leader, spiritual director and published writer and poet.

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