MONDAY OF THE FIFTH WEEK OF LENT
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."
As we continue to move though Lent, we also continue to move through John's gospel. Todays scripture passage is yet another incident between Jesus and the Pharisees. This reading invites us to recognize the nature of God's mercy.
The Gospel presents to us the episode of the adulterous woman (cf. Jn 8:1-11), whom Jesus saves from being condemned to death. Jesus' attitude is striking: we do not hear words of scorn, we do not hear words of condemnation, but only words of love, of mercy, which are an invitation to conversion. “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again” (v. 11). Ah! Brothers and Sisters, God's face is the face of a merciful father who is always patient. Have you thought about God's patience, the patience he has with each one of us? That is his mercy. He always has patience, patience with us, he understands us, he waits for us, he does not tire of forgiving us if we are able to return to him with a contrite heart. “Great is God's mercy”, says the Psalm...
Let us not forget this word: God never ever tires of forgiving us! The problem is that we ourselves tire, we do not want to ask, we grow weary of asking for forgiveness. He never tires of forgiving, but at times we get tired of asking for forgiveness. Let us never tire, let us never tire! He is the loving Father who always pardons, who has that heart of mercy for us all. And let us too learn to be merciful to everyone. Let us invoke the intercession of Our Lady who held in her arms the Mercy of God made man.--Pope Francis
How often do we think that God's love is like our own? How often do we think God treats us like we would treat us if we were in his shoes? How often do we limit God's love with the limits of our own? Imagine being that woman for a second. How surprising, liberating, and empowering would experiencing that kind of mercy be? How well would you want to use the opportunity to live differently?
Let's turn to Confession and penance, where we accuse ourselves of "adultery", of being unfaithful to the Lord and his love, instead of being brought forward by others. Let's go before Jesus vulnerable and contrite, and hear his response: "I absolve you of your sins, go in peace". In other words, "Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more." Let's complete our last two weeks of Lent with a great abandonment and trust in God's merciful love, and walk away from our sin with the conviction to sin no more. Let's also allow God's mercy to inspire our own. Remember, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy." Let us be careful to be merciful to others, and not be quick to throw stones.
When was the last time you went to Confession? What's holding you back from going?
How are you doing with your Lenten penance? If you've fallen, how can you invite God's mercy into the situation? If you haven't, how can you thank God for His mercy in helping you grow closer to him?
What does this passage teach us about God's patience and his mercy?
Who do you need to be merciful toward in your life? Your co-workers? Your spouse? Your kids? Your neighbors?
R. Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant pastures he gives me repose; Beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul. He guides me in right paths for his name's sake. Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side With your rod and your staff that give me courage. You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life; And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for years to come. R. Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side.
How can you be more vulnerable with God in prayer?