Reflection on 5th Sunday in Lent: 3rd April 2022

Allow ourselves to be loved and “gazed upon” by God.

As with last week’s reading, today we once again reflect on God as being loving and merciful. ‘The gospel story begins with a deathly accusation but ends with divine mercy. Where the community’s condemnation would have led the adulterous woman to death, Jesus’ mercy leads her to new life. A story that begins with exposing the sin of an individual ends with exposing the sinfulness of all. Where the people begin with awareness of the woman’s sinfulness, they are transformed, through encountering Jesus, into awareness of their own sinfulness. A story that begins with human testing of the divine ends with a divine invitation to repent, to a change of heart. Jesus reveals a new order in which all are called to repentance and to the experience of divine mercy, to the experience of being God’s beloved.’1

‘We can’t seem to know the good news that we are God’s beloved on our own. It has to be mirrored to us. Another has to tell us we are beloved. Jesus looked at the woman and said, “I don’t condemn you.” Before this gaze of Love, we gradually disrobe and allow ourselves to be seen, to be known in every nook and cranny, nothing hidden, nothing denied, nothing disguised. The wonderful thing is, after a while, we feel so safe that we know we don’t have to pretend or disguise any more. We don’t have to put on any kind of costume.’2 However ‘we can’t love and live on our own terms.’3 ‘We want to give ourselves to this love but we discover that we can’t get to where we want to go and stay in the comfort zone of where we are.’4 “Go, and sin no more.”

‘Letting our naked self be known by God is always to recognise our need for mercy and our own utter inadequacy and littleness. Knowing our need for mercy opens us to receiving mercy. We all stand under an immense waterfall of loving mercy, compassion and forgiveness.

‘God doesn’t love us because we are good. God loves us because God is good!’2

Adapted: [1] Living Liturgy [2] Richard Rohr [3]Thomas Merton [4] James Finley

Gospel: John 8:1-11

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At daybreak he appeared in the temple again; and as all the people came to him, he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman along who had been caught committing adultery; and making her stand there in full view of everybody, they said to Jesus, ‘Master, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery, and Moses has ordered us in the Law to condemn women like this to death by stoning. What have you to say?’ They asked him this as a test, looking for something to use against him. But Jesus bent down and started writing on the ground with his finger. As they persisted with their questions, he looked up and said, ‘If there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to cast a stone at her.’ Then he bent down and wrote on the ground again. When they heard this they went away one by one, beginning with the eldest, until Jesus was left alone with the woman, who remained standing there. He looked up and said, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you? ‘No one, sir,’ she replied. “Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go away, and don’t sin any more.”