Fifth Sunday of Lent (April 7, 2019)

In Jesus we begin to understand the wonder contained in the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Remember not the events of the past; see, I am doing something new.” That wonder takes on a personal face in the woman caught in adultery.

Her recent past is all too evident; she was caught in her sin. Now it’s time for punishment. Jesus silences the accusing voices around her when he tells them: “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And we’re told they leave one by one. Imagine how surprised the woman must have been when Jesus speaks to her: “Is there no one to condemn you? Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.” God is certainly doing something new here.

The truth is: Jesus knows our sins better than anyone, even us. But he chooses not to condemn us. Jesus doesn’t ignore our sins. He fully agrees with his Father that sin must be punished. But Jesus loves us so much that he freely decides to take our punishment on himself. On the cross, every penalty for all the sins ever committed was placed on Jesus. He chose to suffer for us and never blamed us.

God makes his loving mercy clear to us in the death of Jesus on the cross. Jesus continues to say to us: “Neither do I condemn you, Go and sin no more.” God chooses not to remember our past; God is doing something new in us. All the more reason for us to turn to Jesus in our sins. He will forgive us and strengthen us against temptations in the future.

This morning, Jesus is telling us once again: have confidence in God’s mercy and forgiveness. How will we respond? Are we willing to bring our sins humbly to the Lord and ask forgiveness? Where else can we experience a love that forgives so freely? Then, in our gratitude, let us heed the words of Jesus: “Go and sin no more,” and know that Jesus makes that possible with the help of his grace. May our gratitude express itself in our willingness to forgive others.

As we continue to prepare ourselves to celebrate the great events of our salvation, may we learn more fully to humbly receive God’s mercy and forgiveness, and gratefully take hold of grace as strength for our resolve for the future.

May we always have a sense of wonder as we experience our God doing something new in us each day. Let us also be open to God’s desire to do something new in the lives of others through us.