(Is 43: 16-21; Phil. 3: 8-14; John 8: 1-11(36))
My Dear Good People,
We find ourselves only one week away from Holy Week. This Sunday is called Passion Sunday because we are so close to the precious days of the passion and dying of Jesus. In many churches the crosses and images of Mary and the saints are covered in purple, reminding us of the darkness that will envelop Jesus as He pays the price for our sins. He will be ‘taken from us’ for a moment before He rises to new life, and that moment will burn itself into our hearts with a cry for mercy—for Him and for ourselves.
The Gospel for the fifth week of Lent tells the story of the woman caught in adultery. “Caught in the act!” How dreadfully embarrassing for her. And then to be brought to the Rabbi Jesus for condemnation must have been even more humiliating. But there she was, standing before Him, waiting for the verdict and the sentence. What must have been going through her mind?
We can’t know, exactly, but we’ve all been ‘caught in the act’ of being less than we have been called to be. Through our reflection and prayer during these weeks of Lent perhaps we have found in ourselves something that embarrasses and humbles us. Has the Holy Spirit cast a light that reveals places within us that need conversion? How blessed, how privileged we are to be able to stand before Jesus at any moment and receive from Him not the condemnation that we might feel we deserve, but the words that lifted this woman from her sin to freedom: “Neither do I condemn you.” What gift for her, and what gift for us.
And if Jesus would not condemn her, and will not condemn us, it should remind us that we can’t be too quick to condemn others. Even when we are sure we see what we think we see in another, there are always extenuating circumstances, always more to the story. St. Julie Billiart, a gentle woman who lived during the French Revolution and suffered much at the hands of detractors, once said, “Don’t judge others. But if you must judge, then judge with the heart.”
Good words to recall as we begin this Passiontide.
God bless you with His Mercy.
Reflection by Mother Marie Julie, SCMC