In the Gospel from the Mass for the 5th Sunday in Lent (John 8:1-11), Jesus offers the Pharisees a mulligan.  And boy, do they need it:

[1] but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. [2] Early in the morning he came again to the temple; all the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. [3] The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst [4] they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. [5] Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?” [6] This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. [7] And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” [8] And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. [9] But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. [10] Jesus looked up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” [11] She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.”

What Jesus does is an astounding example of mercy.  Consider:

  • It is spring, and time for golf.  For the non-golfers, a ‘mulligan’ is an extra ‘gift’ shot that is given to someone who has just really flubbed their tee shot. 
  • One thing of note:  on the previous day, the Pharisees have just tried to have Jesus arrested, and were thwarted.
  • On this day, the Pharisees have hatched a devious scheme to trap Jesus; if Jesus says the woman should be stoned, the Pharisees will turn Him into the Romans (Jews didn’t have the authority to put people to death; if Jesus says the woman shouldn’t be stoned, the Pharisees would denounce Jesus as not being faithful to the Law of Moses.
  • Jesus, the God of Divine Mercy, gives the devious Pharisee’s a second chance, a mulligan so to speak.
  • How so?  By saying, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her”, Jesus is giving them the chance to reflect on their own sinfulness, to step away from condemning this poor sinful women (who the Pharisee’s may have set up to take the fall in the first place).
  • Even more merciful: Jesus gives the Pharisee’s an “out” so that they aren’t guilty of condemning Jesus.
  • This mulligan is a chance for them to think again. Sadly, rather then think again, they only temporarily retreat in shame, waiting for a better chance to condemn Jesus.

Praise God that He is willing to be merciful and give us many mulligans; Lord, He knows, we need it.