"You judge by appearances, but I do not judge anyone" (John 8:17).
Today's readings include the long, dramatic story of Susanna and the corrupt judges and a repeat of Sunday's Gospel from John 8 about the woman taken in adultery. This parallel presents Jesus as a fulfilling the wisdom of the boy Daniel, who saved Susanna from death after the lustful judges falsely accuse her of adultery.
The Gospel passage continues the dialogue Jesus initiates by refusing to judge or condemn the woman. The Pharisees tried to trap Jesus by using the woman to force him to either approve of her execution or to defy Moses by letting her go. He does neither, and his silence forces the judgment back onto the Pharisees, who are trapped in their own trap.
Jesus alters the story of Susanna and exceeds the justice of Daniel by resolving the confrontation in a way to saves a guilty woman and also allows her accusers to escape judgment by withdrawing in shame, "beginning with the eldest" after Jesus utters the famous line: "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."
God is affirmed as pure mercy, the One who does not judge or condemn anyone and always leaves the door open for a sinner to repent. God does not need to judge us because every wrongful act contains its own consequences, even as every virtuous act is its own reward. Jesus does not discount the Commandments, because they are the minimum requirement and foundation of morality, bringing right relationship and order in life. But Jesus calls us beyond just avoiding evil to the higher realms of love and grace, where we find friendship with God, the ultimate goal of morality.