5th Sunday of Lent – Cycle C–2019
FIRST READING Isaiah 43:16-21
Thus says the Lord, who opens a way in the sea and a path in the mighty waters, who leads out chariots and horsemen, a powerful army, till they lie prostrate together, never to rise, snuffed out and quenched like a wick. Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? In the desert I make a way, in the wasteland, rivers. Wild beasts honor me, jackals and ostriches, for I put water in the desert and rivers in the wasteland for my chosen people to drink, the people whom I formed for myself, that they might announce my praise.
SECOND READING Philippians 3:8-14
Brothers and sisters: I consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having any righteousness of my own based on the law but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God, depending on faith to know him and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ Jesus. Brothers and sisters, I for my part do not consider myself to have taken possession. Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.
GOSPEL John 8:1-11
Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”
My sisters and brothers in the Lord,
As we approach the last weeks of Lent, how about a jolt of renewal? The Six Million Dollar Man captured our imaginations in the 1970s and was a symbol of renewal. The American science fiction and action television series was about a former astronaut, Colonel Steve Austin, portrayed by American actor Lee Majors. Austin has superhuman strength due to bionic (technology enhanced legs, arm, and an eye) implants. Those acquainted with the series probably can remember the closing lines of the opening sequence for the television show: “We have the capability to make the world’s first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better…stronger…faster.” Similarly, The Israelites receive a gift of renewal that prepares them for challenges that they will face ahead.
The Prophet Isaiah tells us in the first reading today: “Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new!” What is this prophecy of a new thing? This prophecy indicates the coming of the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit who was active in creation and would provide consolation and hope to the people. What better words to hear at this juncture during our Lenten observance! Centuries later, the early disciples of Christ would remember this message and recognize renewal in relationship to Jesus.
From the Letter to the Philippians, Saint Paul tells us that no pleasure, gift, talent, or riches can rival the invaluable blessing of possessing Christ. As Christian disciples we are expected to put everything at the service of our relationship with Christ. Through Christ our relationship with His Father has changed. A renewal has taken place because He demonstrated His love for us by living among us.
The Gospel of John lays bare how Jesus living among us showed us mercy and forgiveness. Jesus shows His loving kindness to the woman caught in adultery. The mercy of God does not condone sin but rather compassionately recognizes repentance and grants forgiveness. The experience of Christ’s love provides an opportunity to move forward in a renewed life of holiness. Why should we think that He would not show us the same loving kindness? We can accept His invitation to believe, to move forward, and to walk the path as His followers. Especially at this time of Lent. No matter how much we may stumble and fall, He is always there, inviting us to be with Him, renewing us, urging us to begin again.
Our Christian life is about meeting Jesus every day and knowing that His love for us is ever new. Life in Christ gives us strength to overcome difficulties that come into our lives. This Lententide is not about being perfect. Rather, it is about learning to follow the Lord Jesus as best we can, always relying on His love, mercy, compassion and forgiveness. Let us ask during this Lent: Lord Jesus, renew us with your love.