Grace to you!
In today’s reflection, I use the dialogue between Jesus, the scribes and Pharisees who brought a woman caught in the act of committing adultery, and the woman herself (Jn 3:1-11) to show God’s incredible mercy and relationship with us who are sinners. You would see yourself in that story too.
The scribes and Pharisees in the story brought the woman before the Lord. They wanted the Lord to endorse their condemnation of her. They used the Law of Moses as their evidence to stone the woman. Whereas their minds were deceitful and self-righteously judgmental.
Reflect on the actions or attitudes of people who hastily want to condemn the sinner. They are like the scribes and Pharisees in that story. We too, sometimes behave like them. We hastily condemn people. Often, we demand the strictest application of the law, though we ourselves are equally guilty.
In comparison to Jesus, I see myself like Simon Peter at the Lake of Gennesaret. Seeing the miracle of a huge catch of fish, Peter saw himself in his imperfections and said to the Lord: “Depart from me for I am a sinful man” (Lk 5:8). For no matter how good we think we are, closeness to Jesus reveals the hidden faults and dirt locked in our hearts. The prayer/song, “Oh my Lord, I need you. Every hour. Every minute. Every second,” is one of the most real and honest about our needs. In short, we are like that woman caught in the act of committing adultery.
Many times, in our lives, or through this season of Lent, in spite of the resolutions we may have made, we fall short of glory or divine expectation. No matter how rigorous our Lenten fast, prayer and almsgiving are, they are not even close to divine expectation. No one is thoroughly virtuous.
Between the above two dramas of the accused and the accuser is a holy intervention by the Merciful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus’ writing on the ground may be referring to the Old Testament text that “All our sins are written down” so nobody is without sin. He may also be acting like a Jewish Judge who writesdown points made during a trial so as to make a fair judgment therefrom, and by so doing, fulfilling the trial regulations or protocols.
People keep records of faults. Judges have secretaries who transcribe the facts and evidence to form the statement for the judgment. I am familiar with those practices. None of them touched me deeply.
What touched my heart deeply was the piercing but gentle eye of the gentle Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus—the one who takes away our sins, and his reassuring words, “Has no one condemned you. Neither do I. Go and sin no more” (Jn 8:11).
I found, therefore, that all our practices of Lent are a drop, insignificant before the face of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who died for our sins. The accused and the accuser are equally unfit to stand before him save in humble, contrite openness to his mercy and love. This realization opens my eyes to a new horizon of divine love amidst the gloomy, crimsoned cross.
A new journey of Lent, has therefore, begun. It’s a journey of confidence in the cross of Christ, in the Lamb slain for us. It is unflinching faith in what he has done for us, and what he continues to do in his Church on earth.
Refocus the journey of Lent as your personal faith-journey in the Crucified Lord. You may want to identify with that which has deprived you of inner peace; that which has made you seem unlovable, condemned as if without any hope of acquittal or rising. Unload it to the Lord this day and the remaining week of Lent.
Keep this New Way, a renewed relationship, always open for you as you walk out of the confessional box excited and shouting: “I’m forgiven. I’m renewed. I’m free.”
Praying for the grace of God’s abiding mercy and love. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Sunday, Lent, Week 5: Is 43:16-21; Phil 3:8-14; Jn 8:1-11]
Father Maurice Emelu, Ph.D., provides a daily blog of reflections for the season of Lent your individual spiritual edification. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations. .