7 April 2019. Fifth Sunday of Lent
Reflection (Sem. Justin G. Gatus)
When it was my first day in my prison apostolate two years ago, the first thing that touched me was the sticker posted in one of the rooms where we stayed. “Prison is people”. And I pondered these words the whole time I was there in the prison. These helped me as soon as I entered the prison to interact with the detainees. Undeniably, I felt anxious and scared for the image that I had in mind was like prison in the movies. But as soon as I heard the stories of the people, that image was shattered and was replaced by mercy and compassion which invited me to self-reflection. That night I realized that we were also prisoners of our own selves. Those who were in prison were violators of the law of the land, but for us, we have our own sense of violation—not by the law of the land but the law of love. When we fail to love God, our neighbors, and ourselves, we become prisoners of our sinfulness. Then, the following day, during the celebration of the Holy Mass, there was this atmosphere of prayerfulness, repentance, and trust while we were praying the Lord’s Prayer. My eyes welled-up in tears as I thanked God for letting me feel this experience—to recall my own sinfulness and bask in His loving mercy.
Jesus, in today’s Gospel, revealed God’s graciousness and mercy by admonishing the adulterous woman not to sin again rather than condemning her. Many times in our lives, we fail and fall down due to our weakness and selfish inclinations, but we have a God who always desires for us to come back to Him. We have a God who never tires of forgiving those who repent and grieve for their sins. In the book “The Name of God is Mercy”, Pope Francis reminds us that, “God is a careful and attentive father, ready to welcome any person who takes a step or even expresses the desire to take a step that leads home.”
This season of Lent, I am invited by the Gospel to be merciful like Jesus; that rather than condemning and judging people, I should go back to my own sinfulness and meditate on the benevolence and mercy of God. That way, my heart and ears will be open to all people and be compassionate to them and lead them back to our merciful God.
The Gospel Today
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.”