How fast we move to blame and judge others on their acts and deeds without pausing to think about ourselves !


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“Let the one among you who is guiltless be the first to throw a stone at her.”

On this Fifth Sunday of Lent, we need to perk up the ears of our hearts when God says to a despondent people in exile, to look forward not backward, as though this moment in which they hear Isaiah’s prophecy is really the first day of their lives. He tells them to forget the past, for He has decided to do something new! This prophecy is really a veiled reference to the Father’s decision to send His Son Jesus as Messiah. By His sacrifice, He will bring them out of their vicious cycle of sinning. How sad that hundreds of years later, when their descendants actually saw their Messiah in the flesh, they failed to remember Isaiah’s words that God was doing something new!

In the light of that first reading, we can better understand that MERCY is the “something new” in the message of Jesus. The Gospel describes what incredible mercy Jesus shows toward this woman. The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman along to Jesus who had been caught committing adultery. How fast we move to blame and judge others on their acts and deeds without pausing to think about ourselves and reflect on our own deeds. In one way or another each of us has sinned.

Jesus was very kind and patient. He told the crowd that whoever had not sinned could be the first to cast a stone at the woman. When doing this, he takes a pause for us to be able to reflect on ourselves. He does not condemn but forgives us and gives us the chance to try to sin no more.

The people left one by one and after they were all gone, Jesus raised his head and asked the women to go away and sin no more as she was forgiven. Jesus also asks us all to try and do the same.
Here, indeed, is “something new” and the Pharisees immediately see that Jesus has placed them in the trap! The elders among them are the first to acknowledge that Jesus has won the test, and they are the first to drop their stones and slink away. The others follow, leaving Jesus alone with the woman. Without excusing her sin, He merely tells her she is free to leave, but to “sin no more.” What surprises and delights us here is that the Lord has placed something new into the Law–He now includes MERCY–mercy is now a part of justice!

Here is what is new. Jesus is not being judicial as are the Pharisees whose interests are self-justifying performances of the Law. Jesus sends the woman back into a sense of relating as one member of the whole community. Lent, is never meant for us, to be a self-purifying season so that I merely remain more an I, self-purified and self-satisfied with my penances, mortifications, religious strictness. Lent ends with community. Lent ends with Jesus rising and gathering together those who have been untombed. Lent ends with us renewing our baptismal entrances into community.

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