Studies and Meditations on this Sundays Scripture Readings: March 17, 2013


#1

"But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he bent down and wrote on the ground."

To help us prepare for this coming Sunday, here are the readings, studies and reflections for this coming Sunday's Scripture readings. This Sunday is the 5th Sunday of Lent.

March 17, 2013: Studies and Meditations on this Sundays Scripture Readings

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#2

Meditation from The Word Among Us devotional magazine:

Meditation: John 8:1-11

5th Sunday of Lent
*
Neither do I condemn you.* (John 8:11)

Every day, we face condemnation, whether it be from an enemy, from a friend, from the devil, or from our own guilty consciences. But however many condemning voices rise up against us, one person never joins in: Jesus. However many memories of past sins or hurts come to mind, it’s never Jesus who brings them up. He doesn’t condemn us.

When the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery before Jesus as a test, he ignored them. He simply said that the person with no sin could cast the first stone. Everyone left, and Jesus uttered words of great promise: “Neither do I condemn you” (John 8:11).

Jesus knows our sins far better than anyone else, even better than we know them. Still, he refuses to condemn us. It doesn’t move him one bit when others try to remind him (or us) of our failings. It’s not that he ignores our sins. It’s that he loves us so much that he decided to take our sins upon himself and put them to death once and for all. On the cross, the penalty for every sin ever committed was placed on Jesus. Imagine the suffering he endured. Yet through it all, he never lashed out at us. He embraced it all—all because of love.

This is the mercy God extends to you today and every day. Just as he said to the woman, he wants to tell you, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” Hold fast to these words whenever condemning voices rise up. Hold fast to your confidence that whenever you turn to Jesus in repentance, he forgives you and strengthens you against further temptation.

Do you want to know increasing freedom from sin? Then hand all your sins over to Jesus. Let him release you from the burden of guilt, and he will make you into a new creation.

“Thank you, Jesus, for your unending mercy. While everyone else, including myself, condemns me, you forgive. Such love is too much for me to comprehend. Help me to receive it.”

Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion

  1. In the first reading, we hear the Lord speak these prophetic words: “See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth. Do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19). What new thing do you want God to do in your life? What can you do to open yourself more to this “new” thing?
  1. In the first reading, the Lord also tells us of all the wonderful things he has done for the people he has formed “that they might announce my praise.” During the day are you more inclined to periodically turn to God and give him thanks and praise or ignore him? What practical steps can you take to help you to turn to the Lord more often during the day?
  1. In the Responsorial Psalm, we also hear similar words as we heard in the first reading: “The Lord has done great deeds for us, we are glad indeed” (Psalm 126:3). What are some of the “great things” the Lord has done for you? What can you do during the day to fill it with more joy?
  1. In the Second Reading, St. Paul told the Philippians that he considered everything a loss compared to knowing—that is experiencing—the touch of Christ in his life. He also said he considered everything as rubbish, so that he may “gain Christ and be found in him.” Why do you think Paul was able to say these things? Are you able to say the same thing based on your own experience of Jesus Christ? Why or why not?
  1. St. Paul goes on to say that while he may not have eternal life yet, nevertheless, he has been taken possession of by Christ. In addition, he tells us that he continues his “pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling in Christ Jesus.” What can you do to allow Christ to take greater ownership of your life, so you can continue your “pursuit” toward your heavenly “goal”?
  1. In the familiar Gospel, Jesus offers love and forgiveness in contrast to those who seek only “justice” and the letter of the “law.” In what ways is your attitude one of wanting mercy from God for yourself, but “justice” for others, especially those who may have hurt you in some way? Are you the first to cast the stone? How can you make love and mercy for others a hallmark of your life?
  1. The Gospel passage ends with these words to the woman caught in adultery: “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.” How do these words of Jesus apply to your life as well?
  1. The meditation concludes with these words: “Do you want to know increasing freedom from sin? Then hand all your sins over to Jesus. Let him release you from the burden of guilt, and he will make you into a new creation.” What do these words mean to you? What steps can you take, as we move toward the end of the Lenten season, to make these words a greater reality in your life?
  1. Take some time now to pray and ask Jesus for the grace to receive more deeply his mercy, forgiveness, and love. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as a starting point.

#3

This scripture from John is very powerful and speaks volumes regarding God’s forgiveness.

I’ve seen this scene in various Biblical movies and have read many accounts and I’m nearly always moved to tearsl!! Esp in one movie version where Jesus reaches down and assists the woman to her feet and takes her face in both of His hands, looks directly into her eyes and says “Neither do I condemn you, but go…and sin no more”


#4

I'm thinking about this woman in the story and how she felt. She wasn't a prostitute or, as might be assumed, a wanton or loose woman. For whatever reason, out her own free choice apparently, she was involved in an adulterous relationship. That means she was married to someone else, or the man was married to someone else, or they both were. While she was involved, she probably new it was wrong and tried to be discreet about it. She thought it was secret, like we all think our sins are. When we are involved in our sins, we are moving around in darkness, like roaches in a dirty kitchen. When are sins are suddenly exposed in the light, the deceptive cloak of darkness is lifted and we are left with our pretense. We (and she) were acting sinful and we know it.

Add to this shame the public humiliation of being dragged into the temple precincts, having your sins announced to a hostile crowd, and being thrown at the feet of a well-known holy man for judgment. She well knew that according to the law she could be stoned to death for her sin (even though the occupying Romans might have prevented it if they could, there's no telling what an angry mob would do). Given the circumstances and the shame, she may well have wished they would do so and get it over with.

There is much, much more we can say about this story-- the other people involved, the way it proceeds, and the final outcome-- but I thought it was worth lingering on this one point so that it doesn't get passed over quickly. Your thoughts?


#5

Hello Fidelis.....the following is another essay, author unknown to me.....but based upon John's gospel, told as a fictional viewpoint of the woman. Even if it isn't actual Scripture, it's very powerful imagery and hits me right in the heart every time I read it.
Have a wonderful week!!!

There I stood, every one knowing what I had done, everyone laughing, everyone looking down their noses in disgust. I was ashamed and exposed, naked before the crowd. "This whore deserves to die!" they yelled.

Standing between me and the crowd was a sober, serious, and masculine man. He was known to be well respected. A man who's presence commanded attention. He was known to see the truth in every situation. I was frightened at the humiliation and judgement about to press down on me.

The man wouldn't even look at me rather he scanned the crowd that was now feeding off each other's disgust and condemnation. The crowd got louder and louder, "This woman should be punished!"

All eyes were now on the man anticipating what he might say. He bent down and started writing words in the dirt. The crowd grew silent in its curiosity to see what he was writing. He looked directly into the eyes of each person and then said, with an authority I never heard, "Let the one of you who is without sin inflict the punishment."

One by one, the men lowered their heads and walked away, starting with the oldest. Everyone was gone.

I was alone with the man, who was still bent down. He turned to look me in the eyes. His eyes were dark and intense. He had a gaze that seemed to see all the secrets I had in my heart. He saw how I hated myself, he saw how I hurt others, he saw those hurts those shameful things I would never tell anyone about. I wanted so badly to look away and hide but He would not let me. He reached out his hand and held up my chin so I could not look away.

He spoke, "Has anyone condemned you?" His voice vibrated my chest, it was deep, kind and firm. I looked around and saw no one but him. "No, no one." I said.

"Neither will I condemn you." he said. I could not believe what I was hearing. My eyes were welling up with tears. For the first time in my life I felt safe. For the first time in my life, I actually felt what I assume to be love. The muscles in my neck softened, I let go of the breath that I was holding, and just like that, the tears of all the pain in my life came pouring out, I sobbed and sobbed. My chest convulsed, my face wrenched, and I let go. His arm gently reached for me and he pulled my head in to rest on his chest. His hands stroked my hair, and I even felt tears from his eyes falling on my head. We cried together. He did not say anything but I felt his heart bleeding for me, I felt his protection and care.

When I was done crying, he lifted up my face to look him in the eyes again. He just stared at me for a long moment. He broke the intensity of the silence and said one last thing. "Go your way but do not sin anymore."

His words rang in my heart. I knew that I could not live the same way that I have been living, nor do I even want to. I just got a glimpse of something new, something beautiful. I got a glimpse of a world where I am beautiful and I am valued, a world that I want to share with others, a world I didn't know existed. Yes, I am free of the old self. And for the first time in my life, I am excited to be alive.


#6

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