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This Sunday we celebrate the Fifth Sunday of the Season of Lent. Our Gospel this weekend is taken from the Gospel of John and is the familiar story of the woman caught in adultery.
There are several things that require comment in regard to this Gospel. First, notice that the scene takes place early in the morning. This suggests that someone didn’t just happen upon a late night rendezvous, but rather that a trap had been laid for the woman. This is supported by the custom of the time which required the witness of two or more men to accuse someone of wrongdoing. Obviously, catching the woman in adultery had been prearranged. Second, the last I heard, adultery required two people. Where is the woman’s companion? Third, there has been much speculation about what Jesus wrote when he bent down and wrote on the ground. The fact is, however, that we simply don’t know. Fourth, notice that the crowd begins to disperse “beginning with the elders.” This suggests that wisdom often --- but certainly not always --- comes with age. Finally, notice that Jesus doesn’t excuse or minimize what the woman did. Rather, he did not condemn her. This is significant. It reminds us that judgment belongs to God alone.
The point of this Gospel is clear. All of us are sinners. All of us stand in need of God’s mercy. No one of can stand in judgment of another. Judgment is God’s business, and God doesn’t need our help.
Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. It was a powerful reminder to the Israelites --- and us --- that God has not just been present and active in the past, but that this is still true today. “see, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”
Our second this Sunday is taken from the Letter of St. Paul to the Philippians. In it, Paul exults in the life in Christ that has been given him. “I consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- The woman in this weekend’s Gospel experienced the grace filled mercy of God. When have you experienced this in your life?
- When have you failed to show mercy to another and instead have stood in judgment of them?
- When and how have you found God doing “something new” in your life?