5th Sunday of Lent
The scriptures today are about hope, new deeds, joy, running the race, forgiveness, sorrow and MERCY. What a list! The gospel story sums up all of this. Jesus shows the divine mercy and justice of a loving God to a woman caught in the act of committing adultery. This was really to set a trap for Jesus.
If he pardoned the woman, he could be accused of encouraging people to break the law of Moses. If he agreed that she should be stoned to death, where would it leave his name for mercy? Jesus turned the tables on her accusers by asking them to look at their own sins.
We may well ask where was the man? If it takes two to tango, it takes two to commit adultery. But, the man seems to have had an ‘emergency exit’ from the scene, leaving the woman in the hands of the scribes and Pharisees! These men knew the Law of Moses which stated in the Book of Deuteronomy 22:22 – “If a man has intercourse with another’s wife, both must die, adulterer and adulteress, and so Israel is rid of a plague.” So they re-write the script – only the woman must die. How convenient! And so they confront Jesus with this issue. They are not really concerned about sin, but only in trapping Jesus. He sees their plotting. He is not going to fall into their trap. He begins to write on the ground. What he wrote, we don’t know. When they persist with their questioning, these are the immortal words: “If there is one of you who have not sinned, let them cast the first stone.”
Jesus shows compassion. He recognises the sin, but says:
“Go away, and don’t sin any more.” We saw the same mercy last week in the story of the Prodigal Son.
It is worth understanding what’s involved here. God forgives our sins. We can forgive each other too. But note, there is a distinction between forgiveness and Mercy. Mercy of its nature is a pure gift. We cannot merit it ourselves. It is like the man who owed his master 10,000 talents: if he lived to be a 1,000 years old, he couldn’t pay the debt. So it is, when God shows mercy we are forgiven a debt we could never re-pay. Such is God’s magnificent mercy.
So we constantly come into God’s presence asking for his mercy. When we are in the right disposition we are forgiven by a generous and loving God. We are asked to be forgiving to each other in the same way.
Next Sunday, we have the blessing of the Palms and the reading of the Passion of Jesus as told by St Luke. There will be an opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation after each Mass.
This set the scene for Holy Week, a really blessed time. Please take a timetable and pass it on to others so that they would be aware of our celebrations.