MY daily reflection and prayer:
Sunday, March 13, 2016
The Fifth Sunday of Lent
Dear my friends,
Here is the Gospel for us today according to St. John 8:1-11
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple; all the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus looked up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.”
This is the Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.
TO the woman who has been caught in the act of adultery in today’s Gospel reading, Jesus says, “Go and from now on do not sin any more.” Of course, it is easier said than done. But it does not mean that it cannot be done in the name of Jesus who had turned water into wine. Jesus’ mercy to her can change a sinner to be a saint.
This woman was a sinner. In Jewish law, the three gravest sins were murder, idolatry, and adultery. All the three were punishable by death. The penalty was death by stoning. She was caught in the act of adultery. She could not escape.
We can imagine that her situation was like in a tunnel, standing on a train track, and a train was hurtling towards her. There’s no time to run back, and the walls of the tunnel was pressed up against the track. She could not get out, and the train was coming. Surely she was expecting death.
So we can imagine that at the time, the woman probably felt dead already. She was filled with terror as she was led through the streets to the taunts and whistling of bystanders. The cruelty of the Pharisees should be terrible for her. They really didn’t care about her at all; they just wanted to use her to trap Jesus.
But thanks be to God. Jesus did not condemn her. He forgave her. Jesus’ mercy saved her life. She was able to experience the mercy of Jesus Christ in her misery.
St. Augustine, commenting on this Gospel passage, says that woman’s experience is like a great misery meets a greater mercy. In Latin language, misery is “miseria” and mercy is “misericordia”. So a great “miseria” meets an even greater “misericordia”. This woman experiences the greater mercy in her misery.
It inspires us, because love stirs our hearts at a far deeper level than fear. We feel compassion for her, precisely because we know that we are sinners as well. We too need Jesus’ mercy. His mercy is greater than our misery and sins.
Jesus’ merciful word, “Go and from now on do not sin any more” now is also intended to each of us. I remember what St. John Paul II once said, “We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father’s mercy for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son.” It is our vocation. He will change us the sinners to become saints.
In the Perpetual Adoration of the Eucharist, while adoring Jesus Christ we want to experience his great mercy. There, we come as sinners, and we leave forgiven. Jesus Christ heals us, fills us with joy, and challenges us to be saints.
Let’s pray: Lord Jesus Christ, you call us to a new relationship with God. We trust in you, though we often lose our peace over little matters. We love you, Lord. We are so grateful to realize that you smile on each of us in our weakness and misery and only desire the good for us in return now and forever. Amen.