April 7, 2019 — Fifth Sunday of Lent
IS 43:16-21; PS 126:1-6; PHIL 3: 8-14; JN 8:1-11
Once again this week we are reminded of what a loving and merciful God we serve. Consider these key verses from each of our readings on this fifth Sunday of Lent: First from Isaiah, “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?” Next from St. Paul, “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.” Then the verse before the Gospel: “Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart; for I am gracious and merciful.” And finally, from the Gospel, these words from Christ to the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”
A clear theme emerges from these verses — when we turn to God for forgiveness, He is indeed gracious and merciful. So much so, that not only will He forgive our sins without condemnation, He will make us completely new creations in Christ. Indeed, it seems our heavenly Father delights in doing this for His children. What gratitude we owe to Him!
What is more amazing is that this all-perfect and holy God of ours draws so very near to us. Our sins do not drive Him from us, but rather to us so that He can set us free from them. Look carefully at Christ’s actions and posture in the Gospel reading as He deals with both the crowd of people, the Scribes and Pharisees, and the adulterous woman. “All the people started coming to Him and he sat down and taught them.” “He bent down and began to write with His finger.” “Again, He bent down and wrote on the ground.” He “straightened up” when He confronted the Scribes and Pharisees about their own sins. And he “straightened up” when He assured the woman that He did not condemn her for her past. This tells us that Our Lord is not at all distant and aloof from His children. Like a skilled teacher, or loving “big brother,” He bends down to where we are, He sits among us, He stands to confront us when needed and He stands to look us in the eye to remind us of our true dignity.
If ever you feel unworthy to be called His disciple — to serve in a ministry or tell others about your faith — because of your past or because of a vexing sin you can’t seem to overcome, take heart! Seek out God’s forgiveness in the healing sacrament of Confession. Then, forget what is behind you, be filled with gratitude that He has made you brand new — and go! He’s counting on you to share His good news through your witness and through your service to those around you.
We’re all unworthy of the great privilege of being called His disciples. But that is simply cause for greater joy in serving Him and seizing the prize of God’s upward calling in Christ Jesus.