April 3, 2022 – 5th Sunday of Lent

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There was once a priest who was so envious of his wise and holy parishioner. Because of jealousy, he made every effort to test and ridicule this parishioner. One day, he confronted the parishioner and said, “Sir, you seem to be a pious & religious person.  I’ve heard that God is so pleased with you. Will you please ask your God what is my greatest sin committed?” The man was not able to reply right there and then, and eventually left sadly. Next day, the man came back, asked for the priest, and said: “Father, God said, not to worry about your sin. He has already forgiven you your sins and even forgot about it.”

As we listen to our gospel today, we cannot help but hear loudly what Jesus said, “Let be among you who has no sin be the first to cast a stone at her”. Through these words, we can also look at ourselves, examine our own failures and sins committed against God and others. Yes, it is true. It is easy for us to see and be sensitive of the faults and sins of others than ourselves. It is easy for us to judge other, to cast a stone or smear dirt on others, likes the Pharisees and teachers of the Law would do. Because of our self-righteousness and over conscious of other’s faults and sins, many lives and relationships shattered and broken. Through these words of Jesus, we can reflect back on our own lives and see our own failures and sins – our sinfulness. And it is not for us to judge others because we are also sinners, and have also committed mistakes, failures, and sins in life.

However, if we also reflect deeply, the gospel message today is more than just an instruction for us not to judge other, and to examine ourselves and be sorry for our own sins and failures. We are also challenged today in our gospel to recognize and trust in God’s forgiveness and mercy. Yes, it is easy for us to see the faults of other, and slow for us to look on our own sins, but we also know that in the midst of these faults and failures, God intervenes, forgives, and saves us.

In our gospel today, the scribes and the Pharisees become aware and realize their own faults and sinfulness. But the story does not end there – admitting their sins. It ended when the woman receives the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness. Jesus said, “No one condemns you. Nor do I condemn you. You may go. But from now on, avoid this sin.”

Like the Pharisees and scribes, it is not enough for us just to be sorry for our mistake. We must also receive God’s forgiveness and mercy. Meaning, the good news is not in the realization and admittance of our sins but in receiving God’s mercy and love. Reconciliation is not only about being sorry for our past faults and failures but also receiving again and anew God’s love and mercy in life. God’s forgiveness then is more than just about our repentance but also renewal of our faith in God. As Yahweh insists in our first reading, “Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not. See, I am doing something new!” In other words, stop condemning oneself & others, let go now of our past sin, & allow God do something new & better through you.

We have started the season of Lent during Ash Wednesday with a call to “Repent and believe in the gospel”. This does not only mean that we are sorry for our sins and we are to change our ways, but that we must also deepen and strengthen our faith and trust in God, and for us, to recognize and receive the blessings and graces that God has done and accomplished for us.

As St. Paul in proclaims: “I have come to rate all as loss in the light of the surpassing knowledge of my Lord Jesus Christ. For his sake I have forfeited everything, I have accounted all else as rubbish. I wish to know Christ and the power flowing from his resurrection” may our repentance leads us back to God and renew our faith in Him, who loves us always.

So be it. So may it be. Amen


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