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13th March 2016 - 5th Sunday of Lent C

posted 12 Mar 2016, 13:30 by St Wilfrid RC Haltwhistle

H.B. & 11w.

(Scripture in Church, No. 169, P.53)


Chris Hayden gives us, and I quote, "Augustine makes

a beautiful observation on today's Gospel: after

everyone has left and Jesus and the woman are alone,

'just two are left - misery and mercy'. This surely is

the essence of the season of Lent - that we become

acquainted with our sin and with the Lord's mercy. It is

the Lord who leads his people from the captivity of sin,

just as he led the Chosen People out from captivity in

Egypt, and later, from exile."

Jesus does not gloss over the sin of the woman who is

being condemned by the scribes and the Pharisees and a

few more besides. Jesus does not play down the reality

of sin. Jesus is no liberal, indifferent to sins of the

flesh. Jesus underscores ever so delicately the sin of the

woman's accusers while noting the sinful nature of her

conduct. "But whereas the woman's accusers would

deal with the ugliness of sin man ugly way, Jesus

defeats sin by loveliness."

Just before this passage about the adulterous woman,

we have the promise of living water. "If any man is

thirsty, let him come to me!" (says Jesus).

"Let the man come and drink who believes in me!" The

power and primacy of grace are seen by the crowds who

have gathered round Jesus in the Temple at daybreak.

They have been drawn by the beauty of Jesus and his

teaching. They have not been drawn by a message of

condemnation. Unlike the scribes and Pharisees who

seek out Jesus alright, but are motivated by a harsh

agenda of condemnation. And so we are gently and

deeply reminded that the Gospel is not founded on

command or judgement but on the good news of

unconditional love, the good news of God's prior love

for sinners.

In the same way, just as in the case of the adulterous

woman, the change which comes about in Paul does not

happen by dint of willpower. As with the woman, so

with Paul, the transformation is brought about by his

encounter with Christ. Paul does not set out to

repudiate his former way of life: it simply pales into

insignificance beside the knowledge of Christ The

deepest meaning of Lent is not repudiation or

asceticism, but the recognition of Christ. It is when we

recognise the Lord's goodness that, like Paul and the

woman, we become able to let go of things, which in

comparison to that goodness, are 'so much rubbish'.