Fifth Sunday in Lent
Lectionary: 36 (NAB Translation)
This week’s first reading is from the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament. This passage from Isaiah is a message of hope directed to God’s people who are in exile in Babylon. It is a reminder that despite their sins, if they sincerely repent, they will be given an opportunity to start anew. This is always the hope that God promises to His people and is our hope today.
The response for this Psalm is: “The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.”
The second reading comes from the letter of St. Paul to the Philippians. This passage is packed with theology of Christ, most importantly emphasizing the surpassing value of knowing Christ above any other thing and relying on Christ for righteousness rather than relying on one’s own effort or merits. However righteousness comes from our cooperation with God’s grace and why Paul is saying that he is “still running, trying to capture the prize for which Christ Jesus captured me.”
This famous passage from St. John’s Gospel is a lesson in the nature of God’s grace. The woman caught in adultery has indeed sinned. The Pharisees want to use this incident as an opportunity to trap Jesus in a question of morality vs. obedience to the state. The law of Moses required that a woman caught in adultery should receive capital punishment; however the Romans did not authorize the Jewish religious authorities to use capital punishment. The Pharisees bring this woman to Jesus and ask what should be done. Rather than falling for their trap, Jesus brilliantly uses the situation to point to the malice in the heart of man as opposed to the righteousness of God. True to God’s nature, Jesus does not prematurely condemn the woman as being beyond His mercy assuming the woman repents and does not sin again. While we frequently have to judge actions, we are not permitted to judge people or to assume God has condemned them with no chance to repent. The Pharisees are shown that they too have sinned are in need of repentance.