Woman: two women

It's so easy to miss little details, especially in well-known scripture with familiar themes. Things like time and place, or nuances of speech; words and details which can leap out in one translation, but are altered or obscured in another. Last week I read a commentary on last Sunday's Gospel (John 8: 1-11) in Raymond Friel's Formation of the Heart. He mentions that the encounter with the woman caught in adultery and the angry mob happens early in the morning: a seemingly tiny detail, but one which unexpectedly catapulted me to Mary Magdalen coming to Jesus' tomb, also very early in the morning. 

And then, reading Sunday's Gospel, I noticed another parallel: Jesus addresses both women courteously by the title Woman, which he also reserved for his mother. 

Woman, why are you weeping? to Mary Magdalen in the garden: Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you? to the unnamed woman dragged into the temple. How must that have felt, to hear respect and tenderness only minutes after abuse and the threat of a cruel, violent death?

Two women; two unexpected encounters with Love. One woman setting out impelled by grieving love, the other driven by an angry mob: both expecting an encounter with death - Jesus' or her own - but finding, instead, new life and a new beginning; and a new mission. Mary Magdalen was called to proclaim Love's triumph over sin and death... and the other woman...? How could she not spend the rest of her life as a living proof of the unconditional, unlimited love, compassion and mercy she had received? 

And how could I, who have been overwhelmed by that same abundant, untrammelled Love ever tire or fall short of proclaiming it with my entire life?

And you...? What impels you to make known the love and mercy you know you have received?