Saturday of the Third Week of Lent – 26 March – Our Lenten Journey with the Great Fathers – ‘… He reformed the criminal, He did not absolve the sin. …’ St Ambrose

Saturday of the Third Week of Lent – 26 March – Our Lenten Journey with the Great Fathers –Daniel 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62, John 8:1-11

“Even though I walk in the dark valley, I fear no evil; for You are at my side, O Lord. With Your rod and Your staff that give me courage.” – Psalm 22:4

Woman, where are they?
Has no man condemned you?
She said, No man Lord.
Then Jesus said,
Neither shall I condemn you.
Go and from now on, sin no more

John 8:9-11

SEE, O READER, these Divine Mysteries and the mercy of Christ. When the woman is accused, Christ stoops His head but when the accusers retire, He lifts it up again, thus we see, that He would have no man condemned but all absolved.

BY THE WORDS, ‘Has no man condemned you?‘ He quickly overthrows all the quibbles of heretics, who say that Christ knows not the day of judgment.
He Who says, ‘But to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give.’ says also in this place, ‘Has no man condemned you?
How is it that He asks concerning that, which He indeed saw? It is for our sakes that He asks, that we might know the woman was not condemned. And such is the way of the human mind, often to enquire, concerning that which we know.

THE WOMAN TOO answered, ‘No man, Lord‘, which is to say, ‘Who can condemn when Thou dost not condemn?‘ Who can punish another under such a condition as Thou hast attached to his sentence?
The Lord answered her, ‘Neither do I judge thee!‘ Observe how He has modified His own sentence; that the Jews might have no ground of allegation against Him for the absolution of the woman but by complaining only, draw down a charge upon themselves – for the woman is dismissed not absolved and this because there was no accuser, not because her innocence was established. How then could they complain, who were the first to abandon the prosecution of the crime and the execution of the punishment?

THEN HE SAID TO HER who had gone astray, ‘Go, and sin no more’ He reformed the criminal, He did not absolve the sin. Faults are condemned by a severer sentence, whenever a man hates his own sin and begins the condemnation of it in himself.
When the criminal is put to death, it is the person, rather than the transgression, which is punished but when the transgression is forsaken, the absolution of the person becomes the punishment of the sin.

WHAT IS THE MEANING then of, ‘Go and sin no more?’ It is this; Since Christ has redeemed you, suffer yourself to be corrected by Grace; punishment would not reform but only afflict you!St Ambrose (340-397) One of the original four Fathers and Doctors of the Latin Church (Excerpt from Epistle 26 on the Woman taken in adultery).