5th Sunday of Lent
1st Reading: Isaiah 43:16–21
Thus says the Lord, who opens a way in the sea and a path in the mighty waters, who leads out chariots and horsemen, a powerful army, till they lie prostrate together, never to rise, snuffed out and quenched like a wick. Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? In the desert I make a way, in the wasteland, rivers. Wild beasts honor me, jackals and ostriches, for I put water in the desert and rivers in the wasteland for my chosen people to drink, the people whom I formed for myself, that they might announce my praise.
2nd Reading: Philippians 3:8–14
Brothers and sisters: 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, not having any righteousness of my own based on the law but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God, depending on faith to know him and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ Jesus. Brothers and sisters, I for my part do not consider myself to have taken possession. Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.
Gospel: John 8:1–11
Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. 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.”
A NEW ATTITUDE: People tend to see themselves as righteous and others as unrighteous. This is the position that Isaiah challenges when he is appealing for God’s mercy, “Do not remember the past”. It is also the position of Paul speaking to the Phillipians. He accepts loss so that in the end he may attain Eternal glory. Do we humble ourselves or behave like the Pharisees? Often, we focus on the wrongs of others while looking at ourselves as righteous. Whoever holds the attitude of self-righteousness, fails to see their human weakness and so fails to seek God’s mercy. Such a person also fails to strive towards Eternal life. Jesus reminds and shows us the right path. He led the scribes and the Pharisees who came to accuse the sinner, and they went away realizing that they too were sinners, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Through the Church, Jesus reminds us that we should examine our attitudes, especially where we are tempted to think that we are self-worthy and righteous. Let us turn to God in humility knowing and acknowledging that we are sinners.
Prayer: Make us realize our weaknesses Lord, and cleanse us from our sins
WILDERNESS IN THE TEMPLE AREA: The Temple was for the Jews a place of encounter with the living God. It was this God who was believed to have made a journey with the people. He knew their past and they knew about what He had done to save them. Isaiah speaks about God turning deserts into living spaces free from wild beasts. One would expect the temple to be such a place. The Gospel presents to us the opposite. For the Scribes and Pharisees turn out to be the “wild beasts” who intend to destroy the life of a woman caught in adultery. Jesus’ intervention saves her life and gives her a new chance. Those who wanted to stone the woman were reminded of their past and their eyes were open to what God does in the present: He makes everything new by saving life and forgiving sins. Knowing Christ brings us always into the present so that we may grow into the sentiments of his heart. For one who has known Christ in this way, everything else becomes secondary.