Photo illustration by Phil Younk
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Jesus is always ready to forgive
Based on the Readings Is 43:16-21; Phil 3:8–14; Gospel of Jn 8:1-11
God’s faithfulness, mercy and forgiveness and a constant call to new beginnings are emphasized in the Lenten Scripture readings.
In John’s Gospel, the scribes and Pharisees lead a self-righteous mob and bring a woman caught in adultery before Jesus. It’s a trap. If Jesus doesn’t condemn the woman, they’ll accuse him of not caring about the Mosaic Law. If Jesus condemns her, all his teaching about God’s mercy, forgiveness and reaching out to sinners means nothing.
Silence follows. Jesus bends down and traces on the ground with his finger. He rises and says, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Without directly judging or accusing the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus gently makes them aware of their own sinfulness. One by one they drop their stones and silently slink away.
Jesus and the woman are alone. Speaking to her directly, Jesus offers forgiveness and the opportunity for her to make a fresh start.
In his book, “New Evangelization – Passing on the Catholic Faith Today,” (Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, Huntington, IN, 2013), a summary of the three-week synod the bishops held with Pope Benedict XVI in the fall of 2012, Cardinal Donald Wuerl states, “Apart from the Eucharist, there simply is no greater gift that the church can give her people than the gift of reconciliation. As the synod fathers noted, penance is the sacrament of the New Evangelization because it offers us ‘a new and personal encounter with Jesus Christ, as well as a new encounter with the church.’
“The light of God’s love, of God’s mercy, of God’s forgiveness, is always on, and we can always come home to God, and to the church. We may have been away for a long time, or we may have been there all along but recognize our need to find new life in Christ through this sacrament of healing and hope.”
There it is in a nutshell – go for it – Jesus is waiting!