Fifth Sunday of Lent March 13, 2016
Reading 1 Is 43:16-21
Responsorial Psalm Ps 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6
- (3) The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy. Reading 2 Phil 3:8-14
Verse Before the Gospel Jl 2:12-13
Gospel Jn 8:1-11
5th Sunday of Lent, Year C, March 13, 2016
We are nearing the end of Lent. Hopefully it has been a time for each and every one of us to evaluate our commitment to follow Jesus, and to strengthen our relationship with him.. Hopefully it has been a time for each of us to reconcile ourselves with God, and to recall and renew our dependence upon him.
As Easter approaches, the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, or Penance, or Confession, whatever you choose to call it, is offered frequently here at Nativity. Monday thru Friday, 7:00 A.M., Saturday after 8:00 A.M. Mass and 3:00 to 3:45 P.M. Also beginning at 6 P.M. at the Loras College Chapel of Christ the King on Tuesday March 15, there will be Confessions heard for over 24 hours until 8:30 P.M. on Wednesday March 16th. Also next Sunday March 20th here at Nativity there will be a Holy Hour beginning at 3:00 P.M. and Confessions will be heard then. Finally Confessions will be heard at Nativity on Monday, March 21st at Noon and at 5:00 P.M. Other times please call the parish office (563-582-1839) for an appointment. This sacrament should be an important part of our Lenten preparation for Easter. If you have any questions, just give me a call.
But our preparation for Easter doesn’t stop with Lent. It is an ongoing process which should continue throughout the rest of our lives. I believe that we have only two choices in our spiritual lives: either our faith GROWS or it DIMINISHES. It cannot stay as it is. We need to continually look at where we WERE, where we ARE, and where we HOPE TO BE in our relationship with God and other people. Just recall the words in today’s Gospel reading as an example. The woman caught in the act of adultery was about to be publicly put to death by her own townspeople. They had picked up stones and were all ready to carry out the execution when Jesus stepped into the scene.
He neither condemned her, nor did he excuse her – he simply challenged the righteous bystanders who had judged her harshly, condemned her quickly and were eager to execute her. Jesus spoke, “Let the one among you who has no sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
One by one the people changed their minds, dropped their stones and hurried away. Jesus had spared the woman’s life, and had taught us a powerful lesson as well. I find myself in that Gospel story. Do you find yourself there too?
I am one of the crowd, eager to throw a stone. I have judged this woman in my own mind, and I have condemned her to die, because she was caught committing a serious sin, not worse than any I have committed, but I have never been caught. I am indignant and righteous, and I intend to rid the world of this wretched sinner – this wanton, evil, degenerate woman.
I may even have paid her a visit or two myself, but I was smart enough NOT to get caught. Besides being an evil person, she’s stupid because she let herself get caught.
Then along comes Jesus, and calls a halt to the execution by saying that anyone without sin is welcome to throw the first stone. Well, I haven’t murdered anyone, nor have I robbed any banks, so I figure Jesus is saying, “It’s o.k. Dave, go ahead and throw that nice big stone you have in your hands.”
But then he starts writing something in the dust on the ground. Scripture doesn’t say what Jesus wrote, but I believe he was writing a list of sins. Sins perhaps we choose to forget about, but sins nonetheless.
Infidelity pride gossip Indifference Anger impatience lying righteousness Hatred bigotry immodesty greed Impurity slander envy abuse Prejudice stealing laziness stubbornness Jealousy and more and more and more…………
One by one everyone of us in the crowd sees our own sins, and quietly slips away. I’m so embarrassed that Jesus has written the things of which I am guilty and ashamed, and I slip away too. He didn’t write “murderer” or “bank robber.” I guess he didn’t have to.
I need to examine my own conscience very carefully. I need to pay more attention to my own faults, rather than those of my neighbor. I need to look at the actions and words and omissions that interfere with my relationships with other people, and with God. That’s what sin is – broken relationships.
I need to look at myself, not at you, or you, or you, but at myself. I need to judge myself, not YOU. I need to change myself, not YOU.
I need to ask God’s forgiveness for my sins. Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery, and he will forgive ME too.
I don’t expect to be perfect, because I am a human person with a free will. But I do expect to work hard to keep on trying to improve, to be more like Jesus. That’s what REAL Christians do.
That is how I see myself in today’s Gospel. Are you there too? How do you see yourself?