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Breathing His Mercy

First Reading: Isaiah 43:16-21

Thus says the LORD,
who opens a way in the sea
and a path in the mighty waters,
who leads out chariots and horsemen,
a powerful army,
till they lie prostrate together, never to rise,
snuffed out and quenched like a wick.
Remember not the events of the past,
the things of long ago consider not;
see, I am doing something new!
Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
In the desert I make a way,
in the wasteland, rivers.
Wild beasts honor me,
jackals and ostriches,
for I put water in the desert
and rivers in the wasteland
for my chosen people to drink,
the people whom I formed for myself,
that they might announce my praise.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6

R. (3) The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with rejoicing.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad indeed.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those that sow in tears
shall reap rejoicing.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Although they go forth weeping,
carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
carrying their sheaves.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

Second Reading: Philippians 3:8-14

Brothers and sisters:
I consider everything as a loss
because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things
and I consider them so much rubbish,
that I may gain Christ and be found in him,
not having any righteousness of my own based on the law
but that which comes through faith in Christ,
the righteousness from God,
depending on faith to know him and the power of his resurrection
and the sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death,
if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

It is not that I have already taken hold of it
or have already attained perfect maturity,
but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it,
since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ Jesus.
Brothers and sisters, I for my part
do not consider myself to have taken possession.
Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind
but straining forward to what lies ahead,
I continue my pursuit toward the goal,
the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.

Gospel: John 8:1-11

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area,
and all the people started coming to him,
and he sat down and taught them.
Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman
who had been caught in adultery
and made her stand in the middle.
They said to him,
“Teacher, this woman was caught
in the very act of committing adultery.
Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.
So what do you say?”
They said this to test him,
so that they could have some charge to bring against him.
Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger.
But when they continued asking him,
he straightened up and said to them,
“Let the one among you who is without sin
be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.
And in response, they went away one by one,
beginning with the elders.
So he was left alone with the woman before him.
Then Jesus straightened up and said to her,
“Woman, where are they?
Has no one condemned you?”
She replied, “No one, sir.”
Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.
Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

NAB

mar 13 (1)

Today’s Gospel reading is one of my favorite stories in the New Testament. It may have something to do with the fact that I strayed from God in my youth and experience His tender mercy in a profound way. But even now that I am back on the right road, the display of God’s mercy still leaves me feeling a little incredulous. However, today’s Gospel is a reminder that the wellspring of God’s mercy is overflowing.

I can picture the woman being dragged through the streets and brought before Jesus. She was placed on display as the Pharisees were eager to accuse her of her sins in hopes of trapping Jesus.

I am sure she felt the weight of her sin, knowing that she had done wrong. Shame and fear must have filled her heart as she was rebuked in public and in danger of being stoned to death.

Unlike the Pharisees, Jesus is not quick to accuse, unless it is to point out the hypocrisy of those who act above everyone else. Instead He shows incredible authority yet tenderness. He knew the Pharisees’ hearts. He also knew the woman’s heart and He acted accordingly.

How does this Gospel apply to us today on this fifth Sunday of Lent?

Like the Pharisees, Satan is the supreme accuser ready to whisper into our hearts that we are weak sinners, worthless, and undeserving of God’s mercy. The weight of our sin and our weakness can tempt us to believe it. However, Jesus is eager to cast those thoughts from your mind.

No matter how you have failed, what mistakes you have made, or what sins you can’t seem to overcome, do not lose heart.

Take a moment to close your eyes and place yourself at the feet of Jesus. Picture Him lifting your bowed head as He places His hands on your cheeks. Imagine Him looking at you with love, seeing beyond your brokenness. He sees your beauty, your uniqueness and all that He wants to accomplish in you. It is then that He says to you, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” Breathe in His mercy. Know that He can and will make you new.

If you have not gone to confession this Lent, now is the time to let God’s mercy make you new.

photo credit

Bobbi Rol is a wife, a mama of four and a blogger learning to love God in the midst of dishes, laundry and swinging light sabers. You can find out more about her here.

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