5th Sunday of Lent ~ 3 April 2022 ~ Bible REadings for Mass: I: Isaiah 43:16-21; Responsorial: Psalm 126; II: Philippians 3: 8-14; Gospel: John 8: 1-11

“By your help, we beseech you, Lord our God, may we walk eagerly in that same charity with which, out of love for the world, your Son handed himself over to death.”

Thus the Collect, the opening prayer for our Mass today brings us into God’s Presence. That we may walk eagerly in that same charity (love) with which, out of love for the world… Jesus would walk among us today. This prayer would seem in contrast to the Scriptures shared in our Liturgy.

In our Old Testament, reading the prophet Isaiah is led by the Holy Spirit to remind us of our shared quest with the Jewish people to prevail through the conflicts and droughts of life. This call is balanced with the holy affirmation that whatever need we face God will make a way and provide His merciful sustenance.

The Responsorial Psalm echoes the gentle refrain that although our quest is long and arduous that God is with His people and walks with them. And that, “they that sow in tears will reap in joy.”

This hope and conviction grows as we read from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians. This excerpt gains important power when the context is remembered. It was at Philippi that Paul encountered some of his greatest trials. He was accused of blasphemy by the Jews, imprisoned, beaten, and faced a destructive earthquake, all for the sake of Christ and His Gospel. But from all this Paul clearly states that to know Jesus and walk as He did is the greatest priority of his life. Paul, even as he faced murderous hate and ignorance realized to walk in God’s love was the only way.

But it is in the Gospel story from John that we hear this lesson so dramatically expressed. A woman allegedly caught in the act of adultery is brought before Jesus by the scribes and Pharisees who are eager to trap Jesus in their efforts to destroy his credibility. According to the Law of Moses, this woman was to be stoned for her sin. Stoning was a coming means of execution for men and women in the world at that time. That it is still practiced today among some people defies all justice and mercy. Jesus seems to ignore the murderous religious zealots demanding their satisfaction. He writes in the dust, the message unknown, but to the accusers, with stones in hand, something is understood. Jesus then tells them that the one without sin should cast the first stone. So, they all leave, one by one. Soon it is only the adulterous woman and Jesus. Jesus asks where her accusers are? Where are those who condemn her? The woman, likely in shock that her life is to be spared utters they are all gone. So Jesus tells her… He likewise does not condemn her and to go and sin no more.

“Forgive” by Yongsung Kim

This closing dialogue gives us a powerful lesson in walking in God’s love. Jesus came not to condemn us for our sins. But to forgive and free us to live as He has created and called us to live.

Our pilgrimage with Christ to our eternal threshold is not meant, by God to be a labyrinth of ceaseless efforts and failures before God. It is not designed, by the Holy Spirit to be a complex formula of prayers or activities. We are simply redeemed and liberated by Jesus to walk with Him in the way of His redeeming love. To share this holy quest with Christ is to:

Listen in Faith to Jesus the Living Word. We must walk so closely with Christ that His mercy-filled whispers guide us to be His people of hope, faith, and courageous love even as the endless noise, chatter and empty promises of the world may surround us.

To be nourished by His true Body and Blood, the Blessed Sacrament, the Eucharist. To share, in love and faith the Eucharistic feast is to be nourished by the Body of Jesus broken in holy love and to receive His sacred Blood shed for the forgiveness of our sins and to sustain us in our new life. Our quest in God’s love means, also, that we will grow in true and dynamic reverence of God’s true Presence in the Blessed Sacrament AND IN ALL HIS PEOPLE! For too long the sins of division and strife, of accusations and judgment have veiled and blinded His Church to the holy beauty of God in the sacred Host and Blood and in the Presence of the Holy Spirit in His people, the Church. Catechesis and Eucharistic programs are precious and needed. But even more, needed is the humble willingness to walk in love as Jesus calls us to do.

And we must allow our lives to be filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit. The quest to walk in the love of Christ, to walk in the way of the Cross is impossible, WITHOUT THE POWER OF GOD! Jesus promises His Holy Spirit to empower and enable us to walk with Him. To deny, quench or ignore the Presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, if we are serious in our longing for God, would be absurd. And it would be a loss of tragic dimensions. For it is in the fire of the Spirit’s Passion that we see and grow in the Truth who is Christ. It is in the Paraclete’s promise that we experience the freedom of God’s mercy, hope, and exquisite holiness in our liturgy, our devotions, and our daily walk with Christ. For it is in His Spirit we learn to walk in love. Let us then always “walk eagerly in God’s Love…” in our holy quest with Jesus.

Mont St. Michel ~ Normandy France