Sunday Breakfast with the Word 5th Sunday of Lent Year C
Philippians 3:8-14, Isaiah 43:16-21, John 8:1-11
To save means to rescue someone from harm. Jesus comes to save us from condemnation. He aims to free us from the power of sin.
He does not come to condemn us because of our mistakes, rather, His coming to bring us back to God, and drive us away from the clutch of sin.
Now if he aims to save us and yet we desire to live in sin, we are then our problem and not Jesus. Jesus comes to save us. To save someone means there is a possibility of something that can harm us.
So, when we live ourselves to roam in sinful living, we do more harm than good to ourselves. As the season of lent is gradually coming to an end, the readings are also gradually revealing to us the true nature of Jesus Christ, His motive for suffering for us and the implications of His suffering for our sake.
The readings of today present to us the true message of the Lenten season. As the woman in today’s gospel encounters Jesus and encounters mercy, the Lenten season is a time of encounter with the supreme mercy of God.
Today’s readings also present to us the great and mighty work Christ is going to do in our lives, the reason to seek Jesus with our whole hearts and the true nature of Jesus.
For when we come to terms with the true nature of the Lord, we will not find it a burden to seek Him and long for Him.
He comes to do A New thing in Your Life.
In today’s gospel, He transforms the life of the adulterous woman, In the second reading, He changes the life of Saint Paul and in the first reading, God promises the Israelites after their exilic experience in Babylon that surely He is now going to do a new deed, even though it has come to light; though they can not see it. But He will make a road in the wilderness and paths in the wilds.
He will surely make a way despite what they have passed in the past. Therefore, it means that something different from what happened in the past is coming.
This first reading is part of the long salvation oracle running from Isaiah 43:14 through 44:5. It is part of Second Isaiah’s proclamation of deliverance to the Babylonian exiles (Isaiah 40-55).
The second Isaiah was written towards the end of the exilic experience and after, so what the reading is saying is that though God had previously used Nebuchadnezzar and his armies to destroy Jerusalem and send the people of Judah into exile in Babylon, now there is an announcement of what God is about to use Cyrus and his Persian forces to do.
They will defeat Babylon and bring freedom to the people of Israel, allowing them to return to their homeland. God, therefore, is assuring them that the time of their deliverance is near even though they may not see it.
Therefore, the season of lent is the time God is going to deliver us from any form of slavery and make us free again. Something new is coming. He has come to change our conditions and make something new in our lives again.
What Jesus comes to do is to do a new thing in our lives. In the reading of last Sunday, Jesus uses the parable of the prodigal son, to reveal to us what is awaiting us if we wholeheartedly come back to God.
When we come back to Him, our condition will change, He will surely transform our pasts. Jesus comes to save and not to condemn us.
To seek Him is the Best thing that will happen To You.
In the gospel of today, what truly saved the woman caught in adultery is because the Pharisees and the scribes took her to Jesus.
They caught the woman but instead of stoning her immediately they wanted to use it to test Jesus and in doing so, they gave the woman salvation.
When we seek Jesus with our whole hearts, we will encounter mercy and forgiveness. To seek Jesus is to seek Salvation.
In the second reading, Paul says emphatically that there is nothing that can outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus.
Because of Him, He has accepted the loss of everything and sees everything as rubbish if only he can have Christ and be given a place in him.
Paul says that all His interest now is to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and to share his sufferings by reproducing the pattern of his death. He has forgotten the past and strains ahead for what is still to come.
He says “I am racing for the finish, for the prize to which God calls us upwards to receive in Christ Jesus”. Therefore, Paul says emphatically that Jesus is the ultimate prize.
The adulterous woman encountered him and encountered mercy. When we do the same, our lives will change. Jesus comes to save us and not condemn us.
An Encounter with Jesus.
The gospel today is about the encounter between Jesus, the Pharisees and the scribes and a woman caught in adultery.
The gospel tells us that the scribes and Pharisees bring a woman along who was caught committing adultery and make her stand there in full view of everybody. But Jesus asks them if anyone is without sin, let him be the first to cast stones. With this, they left one by one and Jesus forgave the woman and commanded her never to sin anymore.
This encounter today shows us what we will encounter whenever we encounter Jesus. Instead of condemning her, Jesus did not condemn her, rather, Jesus offered a huge gift of mercy and a second chance to repair her life.
This encounter reveals the mission of Jesus and what He wants to achieve through his suffering. He has come to show us mercy and not condemnation. Jesus comes to save us and not to condemn us. Let us take this step by step in a simple analysis.
1. Despite the Gravity.
In Jewish custom, the sin of adultery is considered one of the grave sins one can commit.
In Genesis (20:9) Abimelech calls adultery “the great sin” it is referred to as ha’averah (the sin par excellence).
According to rabbinic tradition, it is considered one of the three sins along with idolatry and murder that people should avoid even at the pain of death.
The gravity of adultery is evident in the fact that the Bible describes the offence as being punishable by the death penalty for both the man and the woman.
Therefore, in today’s encounter, one would ask about the whereabouts of the man. What they brought to Jesus is the woman. So, the people who brought this woman have already committed an injustice and then sought a reason to punish the woman. They brought the woman to Jesus to execute their wickedness.
Jesus knows the gravity of the offence. But instead of condemning her, Jesus shows her mercy. Therefore, despite the gravity of our pasts, Jesus is willing to show mercy and not condemnation. we still have the opportunity to be renewed again in God’s presence. This is the time of mercy.
A Huge Mistake in God’s Presence.
In the Jewish custom, when someone is caught in adultery, He can be penalized by the chief priests and elders. So, the normal thing they would have done is to take the woman to the high priests.
Had it been they took her to Kaifas or Herod, that woman would have been stoned. But they made a huge mistake bringing condemnation in God’s presence. They brought the woman to Jesus who is mercy par excellence. They did this just to test Jesus.
Their motive is to entrap Jesus.
The Greek word used here is peirazo. The word is used to describe the temptation that Jesus experienced in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1). So they aim to cause Jesus to fail. But they failed and still brought mercy to the woman.
Two huge mistakes they made are 1. Trying to cause the downfall of Wisdom par excellence and 2. Bringing a sinner in the presence of Mercy par excellence.
In simple terms, you can never cause the downfall of anyone in whom the Wisdom of God is guiding no matter how you try. Secondly, when we encounter Jesus, we must encounter mercy.
It is unthinkable how the scribes will bring a sinner into the presence of the mercy Seat and expect condemnation. Whoever approaches the throne of grace will encounter grace and mercy in their fullness.
For example, when you go for confession, you must encounter the mercy of God.
No Straightforward Answer.
In the gospel, when they tell Jesus that Moses has ordered in the Law to condemn women who were caught in adultery to death by stoning.
They inquired of His opinion. Jesus did not give a yes or no answer to this. If He says yes go on, then He is not the merciful messiah.
How can he be preaching mercy and forgiveness and still order them to stone someone to death? Therefore, they will still accuse Jesus. If he says no, they will also accuse Him of going against the law of Moses.
Jesus knew all these and that is why He did not give them a yes or no answer. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where people try to put us to the test to know our reactions.
Whatever we shall say, they will use it against us tomorrow. Therefore, Jesus teaches us to be careful about the way we talk, whom to talk to and what we discuss with people. They could be a trap or an easier way to bring us down.
If God does not Condemn.
Therefore, if God cannot condemn us, let us not be fast to condemn others. Do not be the first to throw stones. When something happens do not be the first to spread false information about someone because you want to rubbish his image.
When you hear something negative about someone, do not also be the first to believe whatever that you hear. Try and find out the truth and if what you heard is the truth, it will be more honourable to call the person private and advise him or her.
Jesus comes to save and not to condemn us. Therefore, let us not be fast to condemn if God cannot condemn us. Let us not be fast to kill the other person, because we are not also perfect.
Every person has a weakness he or she is struggling with. Let us not be fast to throw stones. What we condemn in another person, we may still find ourselves doing them.
1. In the gospel today, Jesus tells them “He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at her”.
The point is that the law specifies, that there must be witnesses before anyone is condemned. It says in Deuteronomy 17:7 “The hand of the witnesses shall be first on him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people”
We do not know whether the scribes and Pharisees witnessed the adultery. If so, they would have to be among the first to stone the woman as I said before.
However, it is likely that at least two people by the requirements of Deuteronomy 17:6 witnessed what happened and brought the woman to the attention of the scribes and Pharisees.
But Jesus goes beyond the requirement of the law. He invites any of them who are without sin to cast the first stone.
The word He used here is anamartetos which means “without sin” or “not sinful”. Therefore, it shows that we all are sinners. There is no one without sin.
Therefore if we are all imperfect, let us not judge as if we are perfect. If Jesus comes to save us and not to condemn us, let us also do the same to others. Let us be willing to save rather than condemn.
2. There are times when we remember our past it seems as if God will never forgive us again. There are times when we remember our pasts, we even find it hard to pray. For us then we have concluded that our sins are many and God will never grant us mercy.
The point here is that we are putting ourselves under the bondage of sin whenever we do this. In God’s presence, there is no condemnation.
Let us not think that God will never forgive us again. He has offered us a second chance, Let us make use of this second chance and seek mercy.
3. Towards the end of the gospel encounter, Jesus was left alone with the woman who remained standing there. He looked up to her 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 do not sin anymore.’
The first point here is that even if everyone hates you, abandons you and condemns you, please do not kill yourself yet.
God has not condemned you and will not condemn you. What He wants from you is to come back and repent. Instead of condemnation, God needs sincere repentance from us.
Secondly, This great encounter happened only in private with Jesus. Therefore, just as the people left the scene, there are times we have to allow some people to leave our lives, there are times we have to come out of the crowd.
There are times we need to come out of the crowd and have a private moment with the Lord. In every private moment with Jesus, there is deliverance, liberation, mercy, and grace upon grace.
As Jesus talks to the woman heart to heart today, is the way He talks to our souls whenever we have private time with Him.
Jesus comes to save and to make us new. To encounter this, let us create special moments with the Lord. Those moments are life-changing.
4. In today’s encounter, Jesus doesn’t ask the woman whether she is guilty, but He asks her only whether anyone condemns her.
Therefore, it is evidence to show that the woman could be guilty. Also, the woman said, ‘No one, Lord.’ then Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go your way. From now on, sin no more.
While it is clear that the woman is guilty, Jesus neither condemns nor excuses her. His statement acknowledges her guilt but simply challenges her to abstain from sin in the future.
He offers her a chance for a new life. This is what happens when we go to confession. As Jesus forgives us, He also expects us to abstain from the sin we have already confessed. He doesn’t want us to go back there anymore.
In last Sunday’s gospel, When the prodigal son returned to the father, He did not go back to the former place again.
Therefore, let us not always confess our sins and go back the next day to that sin. What God needs from us is sincere repentance.
Like Saint Paul said in the second reading, let us sincerely show the hunger to acquire Christ as the ultimate prize. Let there be the true hunger to seek God and keep away from the past lives. Let the past lives be the past, for God has come to do a new thing in our lives.
5. As Jesus shows mercy today, let us also be people of mercy. Let us learn to forgive others for their trespasses, many Christians today are living in bitterness and grudges for many years which even made them stop receiving Holy communion for a long time.
Many homes and families are broken. Instead of seeking peace and forgiveness, they prefer to live in total disunity. We have to know that nothing passes peace.
Therefore, as Jesus comes to save and not condemn us, let us not be different, Let us be like Jesus.
So, the word “let the one among you who has no sin be the first to cast stone” is not only directed to the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees but to us who have refused to forgive, who are living in grudges and who easily condemn others. Let us not forget that we are also weak.
6. Therefore, Jesus comes to save us and not condemn us. When we encounter Jesus, we encounter mercy, we encounter love, peace, and second chances. When we encounter Jesus, He forgives our past and makes us new creatures in Him.
As Paul said, let us seek Him with our whole hearts. Every moment with Him either in the Holy Mass, Holy Eucharist, Blessed Sacrament, confession etc are grace-filled.
May God forgive us our sins and give us the grace to forgive others also. May He bless your week. Amen.