Fifth Sunday of Lent, April 3
Being a Compassionate and Humble Person Guides Us into a Right Relationship with Our God, a Relationship Which Requires That We Embrace the Virtue of Charity Towards One Another.
Imagine yourself running late for an appointment, or maybe you overslept and were running late for work, so your right foot steps a little harder on the gas pedal than it normally would. You approach an intersection where the light has already turned yellow. You speed up to try and make it through in time, but the light turns red, right in front of you.
Instead of slamming on the brakes and screeching to a stop, you decide to speed through the intersection, running the red light. Suddenly, you notice lights flashing in your rearview mirror, as a police car comes up behind you. As you try to collect your thoughts, you pray that the officer will understand and show you some mercy.
Ever been there?
Sometimes we view the scribes and Pharisees in today’s Gospel Reading as police officers who enforced the law with no mercy. Their thinking was all about crossing every “t” and dotting every “i” – without ever truly understanding what the true Nature of God was all about.
In today’s Gospel, a woman, who was caught in the act of committing adultery, is brought to Jesus by these same religious leaders. In their pride and arrogance, they look down upon this woman. She is contemptible to them; they see her as nothing, a life to be thrown away in their war against Jesus. They stand over this poor woman, judging and condemning from their position of moral superiority.
Not only were they quick to judge this adulteress, they also wanted to entrap Jesus with the religious and civil authorities. So, in their arrogance, they challenge Jesus’ teachings about love and kindness to see if He would speak against the Law of Moses.
Our Lord, however, turned the challenge towards His accusers. In effect, He said: Go ahead and stone her! But let the man who is without sin be the first to cast a stone. Our Lord leaves the matter to their own consciences.
And then, our Lord bends down to write in the ground with His finger. What did He write? No one knows. There has always been speculation that He might have been writing down their sins; but, whatever it was, He didn’t call them out. He didn’t openly judge them.
Instead, our Lord treated them with the same mercy that He showed to the adulterous woman. And, one by one, they walked away.
Perhaps, some of them were struck by Jesus’ fairness, or the calmness with which He dealt with the situation. Maybe, there might have been one or more conversions that day, all because of mercy. Who knows?
What we do know is the scribes and Pharisees came for the purpose of ensnaring Jesus in His own words, so that they would have some charge against Him. But, it was Divine Love, Divine Mercy which won over the day!
And our Lord is saying to each of us today, in the here-and-now, words which we find in our First Reading, words which help us to better understand God’s Mercy, “Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new!”
And what is new for you and me is the hope which springs eternal through the salvific action of Jesus Christ! Our faith invites us to look ahead where the desert will bloom, where rivers will flow and where there will be new life for the people who chose God over mammon, who chose life over death.
Each and every one of us is a sinner, and we all deserve Divine Justice for our offenses against God’s Love. But because of the undying and unfathomable Love which fills His Divine Nature for each of us, because the Eternal Word made flesh accepted the sufferings of the Cross – sacrificing Himself to the point of His own death for you and me – we have been spared condemnation.
According to the Law of Moses, that woman should have died. But Jesus set her free. Today, he is waiting to set each of us free as well. And our true freedom is rooted in the Person of Jesus Christ for those of us who chose to open our hearts to His unfathomable Love and limitless Mercy!
For it is Paul who tells us in our Second Reading today, “I consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him…”
For it is in the Person of our personal Lord and Savior where we find true meaning to life. It is in Christ where you and I find purpose and hope and true joy.
In the Beatitudes, our Lord taught us, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” And in another place, He says, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”
When we reflect upon the life of faith which each of us lives in our daily pilgrimage here on Earth, how do we treat or look upon others whose moral or ethical conduct may be contrary to what we have been taught? Do we find ourselves being judgmental or condescending toward those who are different?
To be truly Christ-like requires that we embrace the virtue of charity towards all our brothers and sisters. Realizing this helps us to become more understanding and compassionate; compassion requires humility; and true humility requires love.
And being a compassionate and humble person guides us into a right relationship with our God, and we would know that our being judgmental of others is not pleasing to God who is Love.
For what did Jesus say to the adulteress today? Did He condemn her? Did he scold her? No! He looked at her with eyes of Love, which pierces through to the soul and said, “Has no one condemned you? And she responded, “No one, sir.” And Jesus replied, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”
Through the Cross, our Lord teaches us to see the truth about ourselves. He lowers Himself, so that those who are proud can receive the gift of humility; and He raises the humble, so that those who lack a sense of self-worth can see their true dignity as children of God.
As you and I travel our journey of faith each and every day of our lives, if any one of us should ever wish to figuratively throw a stone at someone else, even if we feel the person deserves it – try to let it go, knowing that Jesus will never throw one at us!
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who pardons all your iniquities, who heals all your ills. He redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with kindness and compassion…The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” (Psalm 103:2-4, 8)
- “Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new!” (Isaiah 43:18-19a)
- “More than that, I consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him…” (Philippians 3:8-9a)
- “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ…” (Ephesians 2:4-5b)
- “Then Jesus…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)
- “Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’” (Matthew 9:13a)
- “For the judgment is merciless to one who has not shown mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:13)
- “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)
- “This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3)
- “Those who go forth weeping, carrying sacks of seed, will return with cries of joy, carrying their bundled sheaves.” (Psalm 126:6)
- “The LORD has done great things for us; Oh, how happy we are!” (Psalm 126:3)
Prayer for the Day
“O Greatly Merciful God, Infinite Goodness,
today all mankind calls out from the abyss of its misery
to Your mercy – to Your compassion, O God;
and it is with its mighty voice of misery that it cries out.
do not reject the prayer of this Earth’s exiles!
O Lord, Goodness beyond our understanding,
Who are acquainted with our misery through and through,
and know that by our own power we cannot ascend to You.
“We implore You: anticipate us with Your grace
and keep on increasing Your mercy in us,
that we may faithfully do Your holy will
all through our life and at death’s hour.
“Let the omnipotence of Your Mercy
shield us from the darts of our salvation’s enemies,
that we may, with confidence, as Your children,
await Your final coming – that day known to You alone.
And we expect to obtain everything promised us by Jesus
in spite of all our wretchedness.
“For Jesus is our Hope:Prayer for Divine Mercy (Saint Faustina, Diary, 1570)
Through His Merciful Heart, as through an open gate,
we pass through to Heaven.”