Readings and Reflection for Sunday April 3, Fifth Sunday of Lent

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In a scene from East Auburn Baptist Church production of "The Event," Jesus, portrayed by Shawn DeGraff, writes in the dirt and asks the accusers, "He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone," when a woman caught in the act of adultery is brought before him, portrayed by Lisa Roy.

FIRST READING
I am doing a new thing, and I will give drink to my people.
A reading from the Book of Isaiah (Isaiah 43 :16-21)

Thus says the Lord, who makes away in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, who brings forth chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick: “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honour me, the jackals and the ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert,  to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.”

The word of the Lord

RESPONSORIAL PSALM   Ps. 126:1-2ab.2cd-3.4-5.6 (R. cf. 3)
R/. What great deeds the Lord worked for us! Indeed, we  were glad.

When the Lord brought back the exiles of Sion,
we thought we were dreaming.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter;
on our tongues, songs of joy. R/.

Then the nations themselves said,
“What great deeds the Lord worked for them!”
What great deeds the Lord worked for us!
Indeed, we were glad. R/.

R/. What great deeds the Lord worked for us! Indeed, we  were glad.

Bring back our exiles, O Lord,
as streams in the south.
Those who are sowing in tears 
will sing when they reap. R/.

They go out, they go out, full of tears,
bearing seed for the sowing;
they come back, they come back with a song,
bearing their sheaves. R/.

SECOND READING
“For Christ’s sake! I have suffered the loss of all things, becoming like him in his death.”
A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Philippians (Philippians 3 :8-14 )

Brethren: I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my  Lord.  For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith; that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

the word‘ of the Lord

VERSE BEFORE THE GOSPEL Joel 2: 12-13
Glory and praise to you, O Christ. Even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, for I am gracious and merciful. Glory and praise  to you, O Christ

GOSPEL
“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her. ” A reading from the holy Gospel according to John (John 8: 1-11)

At that time: Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple; all the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in their midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus looked up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.”  
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The Gospel of the Lord

TODAY’S REFLECTION
The Gospel text of today speaks not of the forgiveness of God, but of non-condemnation. In the Gospel today, Jesus has no need to forgive the woman caught in adultery because He has not condemned her. It is important to note, however, that Jesus also does not condemn the condermers of the woman. He will not even accuse or judge the very ones who have accused and judged the woman. This is the challenge of unconditional love, to condemn no one. The readings of today are thus a consolation to everyone, no matter to which category we belong. Even if we are like the Scribes and Pharises in the Gospel story of today, quick to condemn others and point fingers at them, it is an assurance that God will not condemn us or point a finger at us. If we identify with the woman in the Gospel story, then to us too the message is that we are not condemned for our sin. However, no matter with whom we identify, the next step after having experienced the forgiveness of God in Jesus is, like Paul, to forget what lies in the past and to press on to what lies ahead. And, what lies ahead is only unconditional forgiveness, mercy, and love. Will we press on? God does not condemn. Do you?

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