Fifth Sunday of Lent
Some of the earliest handwritten Scriptures skipped over the passage (John 8:1-11) we have just listened to. They feared that Jesus came across too forgiving and merciful. Those reading it, they may have thought, might be encouraged not to take morality too seriously. But Jesus reminded the adulterer to go and sin no more. He clearly condemns the sin but He also shows mercy and is kind and gentle to the sinner.
When we are caught in our sin, be it, like the Prodigal Son from last Sunday's Gospel, or like the woman in today's, it is natural, not only to be embarrassed by a sin, but also fearful of God.
But when we personally meet Christ, in particular through the sacrament of confession, it is God’s mercy and kindness we encounter, not His anger. Only when we find the courage to confess our sins to Christ, can we be surprised by the gentle, tender mercy of God even if we find ourselves like the adulterer in this Gospel dragged before the Lord by "do-gooders". When Christ looks at us, unlike the world or those around us, He alone in His gentle love and tender mercy can separate the sin from the sinner. But He can only do this if we actually allow Him to detach the sin from us. Too often, our muscle memory encourages us to keep returning to the scene of the crime.
When we think that God is simply “an angry old man”, we often provide excuses to keep Him distant. Doing so allows our sins to become chiseled into rock, into a hardened heart - there to remain and remind us of our hypocrisy or secret imprisonment. We then easily become angry and old. But when we approach the gentle and kindly God, Christ writes our sins, real as they are, in the sand, to be easily removed, wiped clean, blown away and forever forgotten by Him. That frees us to be likewise gentle and kind as God is.
Never be afraid of confessing one’s own sins to God, particularly through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and continuing conversion. Rather fear more if you have allowed yourself to become hardened, stubborn, addicted or reckless, avoiding time to reflect on the health of your soul.
Do not be afraid of the kindness of God’s mercy and love. Rather, fear more if you allow yourself to be distracted away from your friendship with Christ and detached or aloof from the family of His Holy Church.
Never be afraid of allowing God’s Holy Sacraments and Mysteries to reach deep into your heart. Rather, fear more spreading yourself too thin when obligations to family, business, school, sports or work, slowly erases all memory of and thanksgiving to the Giver of all gifts.
Where do we start? Friends do not look for secret places, afraid of prying eyes. Instead they find quiet places where they can hear the other’s voice - a place where they will find a listening ear and a compassionate heart.
Away from the crowd, the noise, the flatscreen and the webpage that often block out the light- regardless of what weighs you down or causes you pain or injury, do not be afraid to find a quiet place and time, a rendezvous place to meet the Lord - to lift your head and see His face and find it full of kindness, to look into His eyes and find them deep and beautiful, to hear His voice gently spoken - words that reach the depth of the soul. “Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart; for I am gracious and merciful.” (Joel 2:12-13)