5th Sunday of Lent (Fr. Vinner)
CHRIST FREES US FROM OUR SINFUL PAST
My brothers and sisters in Christ,
Today is the fifth Sunday of Lent. Gradually, we are coming close to the end of Lent. On the other hand, we are getting close to, the paschal feast. In order words, we are gradually moving away from the zone of suffering to the zone of glory. Hence, all the readings of this Sunday give us hope, and paint a picture of a very bright future for us. Reminding us of God’s readiness to forgive sin, give the sinner a second chance, bind up broken lives, and restore people to His friendship, today’s readings challenge us to show the same mercy to the sinners around us and to live as forgiven people, actively seeking reconciliation with God and with one another. The central theme of all three readings is a merciful God’s steadfast love. The readings remind us that we should not be self-righteous and condemn the lives of others when God is calling them tenderly to conversion.
In the first reading, God tells us of the new things he has started doing among us, and for us. He is restoring our hope, and giving us every reason to continue living. This means that in spite of the difficulties of this present moment and season, the Lord will put a smile on our faces soon. Surely, he will do this because: “Weeping may endure at night but joy comes in the morning” (Ps 30, 5). There is hope because we are approaching our morning. Hence, we must be positive about the future as we approach the Paschal celebration. This is because God is ready to fulfill his promises to us.
In our second reading, Paul tells us that he decided to count everything as a loss for the sake of Christ. This was in order to gain the future glory to be revealed in Christ. He understood the worth of the new life offered by God in Christ. He knew that: “The glory of the latter shall be greater than that of the former” (Haggai 2, 9). Paul saw all these revealed to him. So, he remained resolute in his faith. He did this even to the point of “reproducing Christ’s death in himself. This same promise must sustain us to the end.
In today’s Gospel, the Pharisees brought an adulterous woman to Christ. They thought that Christ will condemn her immediately. They thought he will give them the permission to go ahead and stone the woman to death. However, they were wrong, because Christ came to save and not to condemn. They were wrong because, the ways and thoughts of Christ are different from theirs. So, instead of condemning her, Jesus restored her life, and offered her a new chance to live. He simply told her: “Go and sin no more.”
Like this woman, Jesus is always giving us new opportunities in spite of our weaknesses. He knows how vulnerable we are to sin. He knows the forces we contend with every day in our life. His mission is to save us from all of them, and not to condemn us. This is why he says: “I have come that they may have life and have it in full” (Jn 10:10).
Today, we should be encouraged by these words of Jesus “Neither do I condemn you.” The complete forgiveness of Christ is incredible. When he says these words to us, he means them. He means that our negative past is behind us. So, Christ will always fill us with Joy. This is what he will complete for us soon through his death and resurrection.
As we approach the glorious season of Easter, the Lord equally says to us: “Go and sin no more.” This is an injunction we must believe and put in to practice. He promises us a better future and a share in his glory if we remain faithful to this command.
1) We need to become forgiving people, ready for reconciliation: Jesus has shown inexhaustible mercy and compassion to sinners by dying for our sins. But we are often self-righteous, like the Pharisees, and ready to spread scandal about others with a bit of spicy gossip. We are judgmental about the unmarried mother, the alcoholic, the drug addict and the shop-lifter, ignoring Jesus’ command: “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Let us learn to acknowledge our sins, ask God’s forgiveness every day and extend the same forgiveness to our erring brothers and sisters. We need to learn to hate the sin but love the sinners, showing them mercy, compassion, sympathy and acceptance, leading them to Jesus’ ways by our own exemplary lives.
2) We have no right to judge others: We have no right to judge others because we often commit the very faults we condemn, we are often partial and prejudiced in our judgments, and we do not know the circumstances which have led someone to sin. Hence, let us leave the judgment to our merciful God Who does read people’s hearts. We should show mercy and compassion to those who sin because we ourselves are sinners in need of God’s forgiveness. The apostle Paul reminds us: “But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment.” (1 Cor 11:31).
Finally, we must constantly run to Jesus irrespective of our situation. This is because, he is ever ready to acquit us of all the charges against us. So, let us shout for joy: “What marvels the Lord worked for us, indeed we were glad!”
May God Bless us.
FR. S.Vinner HGN