“Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’” — John 8:10
March 13, Fifth Sunday of Lent
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Isaiah 43:16-21
2) Philippians 3:8-14
Gospel: John 8:1-11
By Jeff Hensley
Catholic News Service
All of the Scriptures this weekend point to the future, a future filled with good things that proclaim the goodness of the Lord and his forgiveness. The Gospel tells us the story of the woman caught in adultery and Jesus’ words to her, so appropriate in this Year of Mercy: “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”
I’m always reminded of a woman I encountered in the back of a church many years ago. I’d see her frequently in the darkened, empty church, kneeling in prayer, her head on her hands, a look of deep sorrow on her face.
For whatever reason, I spoke with her one day, and she alluded to something she had done that she said she could never be forgiven for. She didn’t say what it was, so I’ve never known, but she’s remained in the back of my mind across the intervening decades.
I remember gently trying to encourage her to accept God’s forgiveness and her insistence that she was beyond God’s grace.
She had a glow about her, a sense of holiness that I’ve seen in people I consider to be very holy. As much time as she spent in prayer, she had, no doubt, become quite familiar with what if feels like to be in God’s presence.
So what do we tell people when they fail to believe God can forgive them? How do we tell them to ask, to reach out to the hand extended in blessing? I still don’t know. I only know that those of us who know the depths of our own sinfulness must keep pointing the way, must keep telling those who have fallen that God himself will help them stand again.
Have you experienced deep feelings of unworthiness that make you doubt God’s ability to forgive you? How can you overcome these feelings to experience the unmerited favor of God, which is grace?
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