Thursday, March 14, 2013

"Let the one among you who is without sin"

Sunday’s Gospel for the Fifth Sunday of Lent, March 17, 2013, is about the woman who had been caught in adultery. Enemies of Jesus bring her to him at daybreak while he is teaching people in the temple area. They ask Jesus whether he judges that she should be stoned. After Jesus exposes their malice, the woman's accusers are afraid to condemn her. Our Discussion Questions this week will guide your bible study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

Throw the first stone.”

There is no other event in Jesus' life that more clearly illustrates the triumph of mercy over justice than this story. This scene could refashion the whole earth. The teacher lifts his head. He utters a sentence that sums up the Gospel and all Lent: “Let the one among you who is without sin throw the first stone.”

The Hypocrisy of the Pharisees

The brilliant way in which Jesus sprang the Pharisees' trap on themselves makes this one of the world’s great stories. We can all identify with any of the actors of this drama.  We can easily identify with the woman's accusers.

Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B. reminds us how we also too easily take the name of God in vain when, under the guise of defending some orthodox doctrine or practice, we engage in destructive, personal attacks upon those who differ with us. Fr. James Gilhooley details how - like the Pahrisees of Jesus' time - as many as 80% of us favor capital punishment today. Do we really differ that much today from the antagonists of John's Gospel?

Fr. Jim Kirstein, SMA reflects upon hypocrisy as virtue that has nothing left but the external appearance of virtue. He then illustrates how Jesus could say repeatedly, “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” and then sit down to table with them and even became friends with them. Jesus always held open the door of hope.

From Misery to Joy

What about the woman caught in adultery? We also can all identify with her, in need of forgiveness - often fallen from the pure joy of living in harmony with God's truth and love. Jesus gives the woman another chance. Instead of allowing her to go to her death, Jesus gives her life. Fr. Phil Bloom explains how Jesus transformed her misery into pure joy. He assures us that Jesus also wants to give us joy now.
Fr. John Foley, S.J. preaches that through her Jesus is clearly telling us who God is and how he acts towards each one of us. And just like this woman, full of shame, full of sin, Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says we also need to depend on the Healing Power of our Merciful and Compassionate Lord.

God's Forgiveness

Jesus forgives sin. But, Fr. Alex McAllister SDS points out, our Lord doesn’t ignore it. Jesus knows sin for what it is — a fundamental and personal rejection of God. He is not shocked or upset. He forgives and invites the sinner to turn from their evil ways and embrace the good.

Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB rightly points out that none of us can say unequivocally that we have never sinned. To preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ without acknowledging the necessity of profound personal conversion and the free gift of God's mercy is to deny the central Christian message of conversion.

And no matter what our sins are, Fr. Jim Kirstein explains, each one of us has the capacity to change. However, our God from whom we receive total and absolute forgiveness expects us to do likewise for others.

100 Questions Jesus Asks in the Gospel

Among the many things Jesus did, he asked a lot of questions! To read scripture as a mere spectator looking on is to miss the keynote. So whenever you read the Gospels and Jesus asks a question, answer it! Do not wait to see what Peter or Magdalene, or the Pharisees or the crowd say for an answer. Answer them in your own words. This brings Scripture powerfully alive. Here are 100 of the questions Jesus asked in the Gospel.

If you're a Catholic man, Maurice Blumberg offers this Lenten reflection for you: Opening Ourselves to Jesus’ Call to Follow Him. If you're a woman, send this article to the men in your life. And let the Holy Spirit touch their hearts this Lent.

Reflecting on Sin

The Gospel story we read this Sunday on the adulterous woman and the hypocrytical Pharisees offer us an opportunity to reflect on Sin. Msgr. Charles Pope discusses "The Seven Deadly Sins: Memorize and Understand Them." The more we can know and distinguish them the more we can grow in self knowledge. And from the popular blog Why I am Catholic, Allison Salerno offers another reason why: Because We Don’t Celebrate Sin.

Fr. Longenecker offers bewilderment at those who consider repentance to be a gloomy and unhealthy exercise. He says it shopuld just be the opposite. Admitting our sins and going to confession is actually one of the healthiest and happiest things we can do. Apart from the spiritual graces of the sacrament, he offers several practical benefits to Penitence. And to cap off our reflection on sin, would you care to comment on our Burning Question for this week: What is the worst sin?

St. Patrick's Day

This SUNday, we celebrate St. Patrick's Day. So it might be appropriate that we explain to you "The St. Patrick You Never Knew." No, he didn't chase the snakes out of Ireland. And he may never have plucked a shamrock to teach the mystery of the Trinity. Yet St. Patrick well deserves to be honored by the people of Ireland — and by downtrodden and excluded people everywhere.

Plus we bring you priestly tales of brave Irish clerics clerics who left their misty, green Ireland to serve in dry, dusty Arizona. This is the story of the legacy that Irish priests have blazed in the United States.

Habemus Papam Francuscum

And heh world is abuzz with excitement about our new Pope Francis I. Here are 10 quick facts about him. And here is a quick profile. He is the first pope named Francis. And his elections have upset all of the predictions. The first words he spoke after being elected will give you an good idea of how he intends his papacy to be known.

Another eventful week in our Catholic world. Have a great and blessed new week.

Keep the Faith. peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

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