When religion is sick!

We generally think of religion as a good thing, as a positive influence on society. Throughout history the greatest achievements of character have been instructed and inspired by religious faith. When religion is healthy and robust, it is a positive influence, enabling people to do a better job of living. But when religion gets sick, it then becomes a negative influence, belittling and downgrading human life.

In our Gospel today the woman caught in adultery was dragged before Jesus by the Pharisees to confirm the judgement that she was, according to the law of Moses, to be stoned to death. He went silent for awhile then said ‘the one without sin should cast the first stone.’ They slunk away. Both Jesus and the Pharisees belonged to the same religion yet their responses were very different. Jesus was kind, open and honest, and eager to redeem. The Pharisees were cruel, scheming and deceitful and eager to condemn. Their religion had become sick.

Our faith can also become sick if we are not on our guard. A religion has become sick when we become increasingly conscious of the sins of others and decreasingly aware of our own. Another sign that a religion has become sick is when we start caring more for the rules than we do for people. As a church we have got things wrong and at times we can appear sick and tie people in knots and be very judgemental. We have to be on our guard and allow the spirit of kindness, compassion, love and forgiveness which come from Jesus Christ to be our guiding principle. We need to stay healthy.