A Reflection for the Fifth Sunday in Lent

A Woman Stands Alone

By: Rev. Scott Adams

A woman stands alone. She lives in a time that saw women as subordinate to men, and because she is perceived to hold less value than the privileged members of society, she was used her as a pawn in a much larger scheme to ensnare Jesus in an effort to bring an end to his revolutionary and emancipatory ministry. For his mission to liberate humanity was a threat to the very foundation of the structures, powers, and privilege within society.

A woman stands alone. She is forced to stand before “the teachers of the law and the Pharisees, who brought her to Jesus to be judged because she was caught in adultery” (John 8:2). The men who surrounded her, who represented threatening, and violent institutionalized supremacy, began presenting their case against her to Christ, but making their accusations against the woman who stood alone as a part of their larger scheme “to have a basis for accusing Jesus.” The men in essence accused the woman to accuse Christ in order subordinate him as they had already subordinated her. 

A woman stands alone. Jesus bends down and begins writing in the dirt with his finger, to which some have suggested that Jesus was writing the 10 commandments to remind the experts of the law that all “fall short of the glory of God.” While this may be the case, there seems to be more to Jesus’ writing than a mere citation of Scripture declaring “Thou Shalt Not,” because the experts of the law could easily use this against Jesus. For they were already using Mosaic Law to entrap him. 

Which suggests that Jesus was writing something much more impactful, possibly even personal. Could it be that the Savior’s writing in the dirt was a detailing of the accusers’ transgressions? Could it be that Jesus was exposing the plank in the eye of the accusers who were pointing to the splinter in the eye of the woman who stands alone? Could it be that Jesus was pushing back against the law and order rhetoric of those who held power and privilege, and demonstrating to the men who were prepared to throw stones that they needed repentance just as much, if not more, than the woman who stands alone?

A woman stands alone. For thousands of years the most vulnerable members of our society have been targeted by men who hold stones of power as they promote their own selfish gain to preserve their privilege. But if Jesus were to write down and expose the litany of transgressions committed over the course of history, their stones would likely be released. For it is not until those who’ve had the privilege of being oblivious to their sins come face to face with them, that they become open to recusing themselves from their seats of power and judgment. Only when those who have power divest of their privilege, will society begin marching down the road of liberation, restoration, and reconciliation.

A woman stands alone. She stands among us today. She stands in hostile spaces of abuse. A child stands alone. He stands among us today separated from his parents in detention centers at the border. A man stands alone. He stands among us today in dehumanizing jail cells awaiting execution. A mother stands alone. She stands among us today as her child was murdered by gun violence. A grandfather stands alone. He stands among us today, sick with cancer and without insurance.

Thus during this season of reflection and repentance, the question becomes, what will WE do? Will we stand with stones of judgment, and blame those who are most vulnerable? Or will we stand with those who are alone as friends and neighbors by dropping our stones of judgment, and begin holding one another’s hands in love?


Rev. Scott Adams serves the community of Loyola University Maryland as Assistant Director of Interfaith and Ecumenical Ministries. He holds two Master’s Degrees in Theology and previously served as the director of a non-profit restorative justice program in Durham, NC.