Fifth Sunday of Lent (C)


AdultereThe Scribes and Pharisees were always trying to get our Lord hooked on the horns of a dilemma. The Gospel for the Fifth Sunday of Lent gives us the account of one of these dilemmas: the woman caught in the act of adultery. Jesus’ response is simple. He bends over and writes on the ground with his finger. What did he write? Was it, “What about the man who was caught in the same act of adultery?” What ever he wrote we really do not know! So once again the Scribes and Pharisees end up on the horns of their own dilemma. And our Lord uses the dilemma to teach an important lesson: Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. Our Lord is addressing a very common human failing. We are social beings. We live together in society. It is natural to compare ourselves with others and to judge them. And most of the time the judgment is negative. Conscious of our own failings we feel better when we put others down[1].

But we are not the judge. God is the judge. It will be the Lord who will separate the sheep from the goats at the last judgment. As Jeremiah puts it, More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy, who can understand it. I the Lord alone probe the mind and test the heart, to render to each according to the merits of his deeds[2].

Furthermore, we do not have all of the data to make a true judgment. We judge by appearances. We cannot know the heart and the conscience. Therefore, every human judgment by that very fact is superficial and false. Sometime we look down on others who if they had been given the opportunities and graces we have been given would have been far superior to us. And if we had been subjected to their situation we would be worse than they.

Finally, as we judge so shall we be judged. What we need is mercy, and forgiveness not judgment. We judge actions we do not judge persons. We respect and honor each person. They are made in the image of God. They have this intrinsic core goodness that nothing can destroy. And Jesus identifies Himself with this person. Whatever we do to them He takes as done to Himself. And we have sympathy and compassion for them for they share with us the dependence, infirmities and “transcendental neediness” of the human condition. And we realize that there but for the grace of God go I.

Our Lord expresses this lesson very clearly in His Sermon on the Mount. Stop judging, that you may not be judged[3].

This morning let us call for the Lord’s compassion on all who so desperately seek to be forgiven, including ourselves: Lord, give us all the courage, Lord, to come before you in humility, and to leave not just with forgiveness, but with the determination to sin no more


[1] Sunday 17th March, 2013, 5th Sunday of Lent. Readings: Isaiah 43:16-21. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy - Ps 125(126). Philippians 3:8-14. John 8:1-11.
[2] Jer. 17: 9-10
[3] Matt. 7: 1-5

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris