God wants sincere repentance and sincere efforts to amend our lives
Reflections on the readings for the Fifth Sunday of Lent (April 7, 2019): IS 43:16-21; PS 126:1-2,2-3,4-5,6; PHIL 3:8:14; JN 8:1-11
MISSIO offers “Mission In Scripture” to nurture a missionary heart, providing reflections on the missionary themes in the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
In this incident of the woman taken in adultery, the Gospel of John shows us the enemies of Christ trying to outwit Him by forcing Him to choose between mercy and the law.
They fail when He reminds them of their own sinfulness. And so Jesus is left alone with the woman. She, too, is guilty of sin, but our Lord sees her heart and, in His love and pity, offers her forgiveness. “Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She replied, ‘No one, sir.’ Then Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.’” (John 8:10-11)
Christ does not pretend that she is innocent or that sin does not matter. She is not innocent – and it does matter. But mercy matters more. Mercy is what brought the Son of God to become human and save us from evil and death. Over the next two weeks of Lent we will be reminded of the love that led Jesus to sacrifice Himself for us, for sinners. He hates the vices and transgressions we commit as well as our failures and omissions in doing good. But He loves us and joyfully embraces us with His compassion when we open our foolish and selfish hearts to Him in sorrow and contrition. We need to remember that He will never turn away from us if we approach Him, asking forgiveness. And we need to remember just as clearly that our Lord wants us to forgive others, to extend to our brothers and sisters the gift of reconciliation. All of today’s readings ask us to look forward in hope rather than dwelling on mistakes of the past. Let us bear that in mind as we contemplate Christ’s final days in the hope of the Resurrection.
Suggested missionary action: We can resolve that during the rest of the Lenten season – and beyond – we avoid judging others. And we can also examine our own actions the way Jesus might see them and pray for His guidance in all things.