Reflection for Sunday – March 13, 2016
Readings: Isaiah 43: 16-21; Philippians 3: 8-14; John 8: 1-11 Reflection by Gee Gee Micoli
We have all experienced tough times during our lives. We find ourselves in places where we would just rather not be, maybe when we have taken risks or just didn’t think things completely through. Some of us have been hurt or are alive only by the grace of God! All three of our readings today have individuals who find themselves in undesirable places. Each has tangled with the law or the governing powers in some capacity. They are told not to look back but to focus their attentions on what is ahead. What lies before each of these individuals is Good News! As much as we dislike being in tough spots, we all love and desire Good News.
The Babylonians had sacked Jerusalem, captured the Hebrews and taken them into captivity in Babylon. In our first reading, Isaiah reports to these people that, after 40 years, they can go home. Cyrus is allowing them to go back to Jerusalem. Although they have been victims of war, Isaiah tells them that the Lord has said that they should not consider the things of long ago nor remember the things of the past. The words, “See I am doing something new,” and the reality that God is making things right again is Good News indeed for these captives!
Paul was in prison when he wrote his letter to the Christian community in Philippi, the first church established on European soil. Paul tells his friends that he has “accepted the loss of all things”—which he considered “rubbish” anyway— to gain Christ. This gain did not come through any righteousness of his own doing, based on the law, but came through faith in Christ. Paul tells them that “forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead” is the only way Paul could continue to pursue “the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.” Although not yet complete, that was Paul’s mission and quest. Looking forward and achieving that goal would be Good News!
In the gospel, the Scribes and Pharisees present Jesus with a woman “caught in the very act of committing adultery.” These church leaders were not interested in the value of the woman as a person. They saw her as an avenue to arrest Jesus. They were setting Jesus up against the law. Would he follow the law of Moses or not? So what does Jesus do? He starts writing on the ground with his finger as they continue to pester him with questions. Jesus knew that the Law gave these leaders the authority to take the life of this woman due to her unfaithfulness. She had been caught breaking the law. Her life was on the line. Jesus knew this was not God’s will.
Out of compassion for this woman, Jesus found a simple yet non-violent solution to this harsh Mosaic law. He straightened up, and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then he went back to writing on the ground while they all drifted away starting with the elders. When everyone had left, “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She answered, ‘No one, sir.’ And Jesus said ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go on your way, and from now on, do not sin again.’ ” God knows we all make bad choices and are capable of sin. Jesus did not judge her but gave her the chance to repent and change. The compassion of Jesus was surely Good News for this woman. Even more importantly, these are words to us when we make mistakes.
Our gospel reading presents the compassionate Jesus, the perfect model for us to emulate during this Year of Mercy. In the prayer for this year, Pope Francis says “May we, your Church, bring good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed and restore sight to the blind.” For us to be capable of answering this prayer, we must slow down and pay attention. We must refrain from judgment and instead, offer our compassion, just like Jesus did in our gospel reading. This isn’t easy. But we are Good News to so many that desperately need us. Pope Francis, our living role model, is calling each of us to carry Good News to our neighbors, just as Jesus did.