Fifth Sunday in Lent (Rosalino Reyes Dizon)

Ross Reyes DizonHomilies and reflections, Year CLeave a Comment

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Author: Rosalino Reyes Dizon .

A native of the Philippines, Ross Reyes Dizon lives with his wife, Melody, in Vallejo, California. They are the parents of two grown-up sons, Vincent and Justin, and grandparents of 19-month old Maximilian Frédéric. Ross has been posting Sunday readings reflections to various Vincentian web sites, including this site.


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The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand (Mk. 1:15)

It is early morning and already those reputed to be important try to ruin the Teacher’s day.  They have in mind killing two birds with one stone:  an adulteress, that she die, and Jesus, that he fall into their trap, so they may accuse him of violating either the Mosaic law, if he condones her, or if he condemns her, the Roman law that supposedly does not allow Jews to put anyone to death (Jn. 18:31).

Jesus bends down as if not to recognize the presence of those morality secret agents who serve as prosecutor, judge and jury all at once.  Casually, he writes on the ground with his finger and thus indicates that he is not interested to play such hypocritical game.  It is not yet his time to sit on his glorious throne and hold the final judgment.

But since they continue to ask him, he intervenes.  Then, he displays once again his lack of interest in the question posed.  In effect, through his intervention, he disregards the matter of condemning or condoning and replaces it with that of repentance and salvation.

Jesus does not condemn the accusers; he only asks that they examine themselves.  They are perhaps not guilty of physical adultery, but could they have committed adultery in their hearts, even taking part vicariously in the act they watched?  One can only imagine how they managed to catch her in the very act of adultery, but by going away one by one, they admit that they are not without sin.  Such an admission can be the opening to repentance and the new life.

Jesus opens the door of repentance and salvation to the adulteress.  Without overlooking her sin, he addresses reassuring words to her, the only one caught (where would her accomplice be?), held in public contempt, exceedingly intimidated.  He encourages her:  let bygones be bygones; instead of remembering the events of the past and considering the things of long ago, she should see to it that her life changes.

Jesus wants the same for us who are just as guilty as she, and equally abused perhaps, frightened and vilified.  He assures us that we do not have any reason to feel we are doomed:  “Neither do I condemn you.  Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

And if we are like the experts and the religious leaders who believe they have the right to enter secretly in order to spy on others and deprive them of freedom (Gal. 2:4), boasting of their infallible knowledge, harsh implementation and irreproachable keeping of traditions, so enamored are they of ancient sources but without any intention that these become incarnate in the present, then Jesus’ will to save us is manifested in another way:  “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Jesus does not want us to follow the example of the scribes and the Pharisees (Mt. 23:3).  Among Christians there should be no sort of tyranny, oppression, jockeying for the first and best positions, blackmailing of supposed rivals, contempt for the poor. What is helpful in the conversion of the strayed is not arrogant power, but rather, as St. Vincent de Paul attests, meekness, humility, patience, kindness, concern for the poor.

Let us forget, then, all arrogance and strain forward to the new thing that the Lord is doing, which is noticeably springing forth.  We will thus belong to the new and eternal covenant, sealed with the sacrifice of the one who already early in the morning seeks our repentance and salvation, and never our ruin or perdition.

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