Fifth Sunday of Lent: Bulletin cover art and column

April 7, 2019 Bulletin Cover

Dear Followers of Jesus,

John 8:1-11 is proclaimed at Mass this weekend. I love this text. This story is ultimate spiritual freedom and forgiveness. I hope you can find your way into this story this week. The Church needs you to know the mercy of Jesus Christ, to become a follower of Him who leads you, tenderly invites you, and shows you the way into your real life.

An anonymous woman is caught in adultery. The obvious first question is, “What happen to the man?” We don’t know. The more I sit with this text the more I come to the conclusion that the man involved will never know forgiveness and mercy because he does not know Jesus.

The woman is in a circle of men, a circle of perceived power and authority. This power-circle caves in very fast. Jesus is near, doing what he always does— changing the status and place of power. He invites the men to self-reflect. That is the first miracle. So those without sin should be the first to cast a stone. The men begin to understand. They put down the stones of condemnation, the stones that were going to kill the woman who is steeped in sin according to the men in the power positions.

Jesus is stooped down to the ground. He is writing something in the sand. No one really knows what he is doing. Even centuries later, no one knows for sure. What I love about his place in this story is that he is detached from the power scene. He claims his own power by literally drawing new lines in the sand that erase the boundaries between sinners and saved. Jesus is revealing to everyone that there is a new authority; there is a new way of viewing the past. Jesus squats down to doodle a new story in the sand that washes hopelessness away and restores the dignity of the woman. The men are faced with their own truth, which is truly humbling for them.

Forgiveness is a miracle we all seek, especially in the Lenten season. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own sin that we think Jesus could not forgive us. Sometimes we even believe that our sin is so strong and divisive that it could not possibly be forgiven. We hold it as a badge of honor and never let it go. I am not exactly sure what possesses us to believe that our own sin is so darn important, but I experience it in people all the time. “God could not possibly forgive me!” Not true, just listen to this story.

I pray we can put down the stones we want to cast at others. We need to put down the stones that condemn and push others away. Sometimes those stones come from our mouths and sometimes they come from a cold shoulder. Sometimes we blame others for what is not going well in our own lives. Sometimes our stones become sheer hate. Whether our stones are guns or words in an email, our blame hurts people.

Let’s pray to find Jesus bending down in the sand to forgive us, to erase the boundaries of our hatred. Let’s find him face to face.

Blessings,

Fr. Ron

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