The Gospel Today
Fifth Sunday 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.”
Reflection (Sem. Danichi Hui)
St. Augustine poignantly described the scene in the Gospel today when Jesus and the adulteress were left by the people and the scribes as “Relicti sunt duo, misera at misericordia” (and the two were left: the wretched one and Mercy). It was the time after Jesus told the scribes and the Pharisees to “let the one who has no sin cast the first stone to the woman.” Jesus, though had no sin, did not condemn the woman but forgave her. This is the kind of mercy and compassion of God. He who forgives is the one who comes to us, a kind of mercy that neither judges nor condemns anyone.
Oftentimes, we are the ones who judge and are hard on ourselves. We become like the scribes and the Pharisees who do not value compassion and mercy because of rigidity and legalism. We look at sin as something that is unforgivable, and so we run away from God. We operate through our own standards and forget that God thinks differently. We are His children and so we are loved. There is no other basis for His mercy and compassion other than His love.
In this season of Lent, we are reminded that all of us, though sinful, will not be condemned by God. Every aspect of His being would only refer to His love for us. His passion and death are expressions of such love that led Him to offer His life for our salvation. Salvation is for all but it can only have an effect to us if we believe that He can forgive us. Let us allow Jesus to tell us what He had told the adulteress as we ask for His forgiveness: “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”