5th Lent Sunday: Mercy in Action

03-27-2022Weekly ReflectionFr. Bing Colasito

Last Sunday presents the Parable of the Prodigal Son; many call it the parable of divine mercy. The Gospel today; carries the same theme where we draw closer to the heart of the mystery of mercy. Jesus shows mercy in action with the story of the woman caught in adultery.

1. In the story of the prodigal son, the father condemned not the returning son who asks for forgiveness. And when the older son arrives, the father tries to convince and win his heart to extend mercy towards the younger brother.

2. Jesus did not condemn the sinful woman: Nor do I CONDEMN you. With the scribes and the Pharisees, He also wants to win their hearts and minds to extend mercy to her.

The scribes and the Pharisees expose the woman with malice in their hearts; so that they can find fault in the judgment of Jesus. Their ultimate goal is to trap Jesus and find errors in His teachings to indict Him. But unlike the elders, Jesus promotes the dignity of women and the health of the soul. Jesus knows the inner sanctum of the conscience and did not want to expose the woman to further humiliation. As He stoops down and writes on the ground, the accusers hear the words of Jesus in their conscience.

He who has no sin cast the first stone. Starting from the elders - they left the woman embarrassed for what they did to her - their quickness to condemn the woman, unknowingly expose the dirt and malice in their hearts.

After the initial condemnation from the elders and leaders of the people, the woman ends up being alone with Jesus. She discovers the wonders of God’s divine mercy - in the presence of love in truth. The Lord grants the woman something others did not experience, MERCY for her sins and love. Her life suddenly changed; she experienced conversion: The past is history, the future is a mystery, but the present moment is the gift of grace from God. - None of her past sins matter now, before Jesus, His words liberated her; I do not condemn you; Go and sin no more. In the eyes of the people and the Jewish leaders, she is a hopeless case; the only thing that could save her from further embarrassment is the punishment of death. Instead, she experiences LOVE.

We can all associate ourselves with the woman. We are all sinners, perhaps even worse. We are fortunate that no one exposes our sins before public scrutiny; and that our God is slow to anger and rich in mercy, He is also gentle. Perhaps a visit to our conscience in a good examination of conscience would help us feel the sorrow for our sins. Like the younger son in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the more distance we are from God, the heavier guilt we carry. Remember, when everyone has abandoned us, like the woman, our only hope is to remain with JESUS, experience his divine mercy, and receive His assurance: Nor do I condemn you. Jesus does not condone the sin but purifies it. He wants to bring out the best in us, especially those persecuted and maligned by society.

It is true that the woman was caught in adultery and humiliated publicly. But Jesus exposes the hypocrisy of her accusers; it is not about her - those who condemned her had bigger sins. No one cast the first stone because everyone realizes that they are as guilty as her. The key to a merciful life is; Let us stop judging and condemning others and be more compassionate, more understanding, and more forgiving towards others. Our past is in God’s mercy and love, but our future is in His hand. What matters most, in the end, is that we did not give up on God, we did not give up on others, and we did not give up on ourselves.