Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6
Gospel: John 8:1-11
The passages from the Old and New Testament are excellent allegories that explain why the death penalty should be used rarely, if at all. After all, how can a government that cannot accurately determine guilt from innocence (especially regarding the most innocent of its people – the unborn); how can such a government determine whom it should condemn to death? We will see this scene played out again during the readings of the Passion in a few weeks, but unlike these stories, no one stands up for the accused, and the innocent suffers because of the sins of us all.
This brings up the main point of these readings, for the central purpose is not to limit the death penalty (for the guilty as well as the innocent), but rather to encourage good people to do a good thing. We are not just called on to feel sorry for the accused or the imprisoned – I’m sure many in Jerusalem felt sorry for Jesus, but that didn’t change the fact that he still died! We are called to act on behalf of the innocent (for this is justice) and the guilty (for only in showing mercy will mercy be shown to us). Remember that Satan (literally, "the Accuser") is always at work promoting evil in our world – until Calvary, this used to be his playground. The Kingdom of God was ushered in by Jesus’ death and resurrection, but it is left to us to finish the job. To use an analogy from the Iraq war, Jesus has conquered with "shock and awe", but it is left to us to rebuild The Kingdom, while staving off the insurgency of Satan. (Do not get the wrong idea: I am not equating Iraq and the insurgents/terrorists with the Kingdom of God or Satan. It is merely a useful metaphor.) Clean-up and rebuilding is not the same as "business as usual" – it is not a passive going through the motions of an ordinary day – it is an active daily sacrifice to make the world better. It is a cliche’, but that does not change the truth of it: all that is need for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.
Aside from putting money in a collection basket, how can you actively help the clean-up and rebuilding of the Kingdom of God on Earth?