Fifth Sunday of Lent -
March 25, 2007
The readings: [Is. 43:16-21; Phil. 3:8-14; Jn. 8:1-11]
Message: From now on do not sin again.
"Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path
in the mighty waters, who brings out chariot and horse,
army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they
are extinguished, quenched like a wick: Do not remember
the former things, or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do
you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
The wild animals will honour me, the jackals and the
ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in
the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the
people whom I formed for myself so that they might
declare my praise." [Is. 43:16-21]
Second Reading ...
"I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing
value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I
have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them
as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found
in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes
from the law, but one that comes through faith in
Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith.
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection
and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him
in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection
from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained this or have already
reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own,
because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own;
but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and
straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward
the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in
Christ Jesus." [Phil. 3:8-14]
"Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning
he came again to the temple. All the people came to him
and he sat down and began to teach them.
The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had
been caught in adultery; and making her stand before the
people, they said to Jesus, 'Teacher, this woman was
caught in the very act of committing adultery in the
law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do
you say?' They said this to test Jesus, so that they
might have some charge to bring against him.
Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.
When the scribes and Pharisees kept on questioning him,
Jesus straightened up and said to them, 'Let anyone
among you who is without sin be the first to throw a
stone at her.' And once again Jesus bent down and wrote
on the ground.
When the scribes and Pharisees heard what Jesus had
said, they went away, one by one, beginning with the
elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing
Jesus straightened up and said to her, 'Woman, where are
they? Has no one condemned you?' She said, 'No one,
sir.' And Jesus said, 'Neither do I condemn you. Go your
way, and from now on do not sin again.'" [Jn. 8:1-11]
A rich Japanese millionaire had a hobby of collecting
Chinese Jars. He had a lovely small family – his wife
Tsang and daughter Erica. He had collected such a lot of
Jars that his home was filled with them. He would place
them everywhere. He had warned his wife and child of
dire consequences if something would happen to his jars.
Well, one day when he was away for his business, Erica
began playing the ball carefully. For her bad luck the
ball fell on one jar that jar tilted on another, and
another jar fell on another. Consequently a couple of
jars were broken to pieces. The mother comes running and
yells at her child saying ‘you will be punished
mercilessly baby’ for these jars. In the evening the man
comes home and finds that a couple of jars were strewn
on the floor, broken and in pieces. He shouts loudly
‘where are you Erica? I will break you into pieces like
these jars, where are you?’ He goes in search of Erica,
but she could not be traced at home. He runs outside his
home, to his neighbours, to relatives’ houses. No trace
of his daughter. He comes back home furious. Spends some
time and gets upset with everything. Finally, he comes
to his senses and really looks for Erica. He was now
greatly concerned. When he could not find her anywhere,
he becomes anxious and worried. Reports to the police
and they begin a search for her. Now three days are
over. Erica is nowhere to be found. Now the rich man is
desperate. He begins to repent. He goes to the nearby
T.V. station and says ‘I will pay you any amount of
money, please come home and video tape all what I want
to say and do, and air it in the next programme in your
T.V’. Well, the reporters come home and begin to
videotape all that the rich man had to say. He begins
his confession ‘Dear Erica, my sweet daughter. Come home
my darling. I love you so much. My hobby of collecting
jars blinded me. I loved the jars more than you. Now I
repent and you see what I am doing. He takes a club in
his hand and breaks every jar at home and says ‘dear
Erica, you broke only 5 jars. I have broken all the
jars. Now do not be afraid to come home. I want you’.
Saying this he weeps bitterly for his mistake. The T.V.
reporters air these happenings in the T.V. and in a day
Erica gets back home embracing and kissing her father.
I do not know how many of us rejoiced when Saddam
Hussein was recently hanged to death. Some even video
taped the agonizing man dying. Once himself a great
dictator and a murderer had to pay the price with his
own death. However, we have no right to rejoice at
anyone’s death. Death is the right reward for our sins.
That is why the woman was brought to be stoned. But
fortunately life came on the way (Jn 10.10). He came to
give life, but life in abundance. He told his listeners
that those who have not sinned may cast the first stone
at her. Well, he also said, do not judge, that you may
not be judged (Lk 6.36)
Biblical notion of Forgiveness
Throughout the Bible, forgiveness carries
the idea of "release," "sending away," or "letting go."
The Greek word often translated "forgiveness" was used
to indicate release from an office, marriage,
obligation, debt, or punishment. The idea of a debt or
something owed is inherent to the concept of
In biblical terms, therefore, forgiveness is the
loving, voluntary cancellation of a debt. It is the
kind of release Jesus spoke of when, during a teaching
moment at Simon the Pharisee's house, He likened
forgiveness to the cancellation of a financial
obligation (Lk 7.36-47). While having dinner there,
Jesus was visited by a broken, repentant prostitute. Her
emotions were uninhibited. Expressing deep affection for
the Lord, she washed His feet with her tears, dried them
with her hair, kissed them, and poured an expensive
perfume on them (vv.37-38). Luke says that Simon was
incensed and thought within himself that if Jesus were a
prophet, He would know what kind of woman was touching
In response to Simon's reaction, Jesus told the
following story: "'There was a certain creditor who had
two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii [1 1/2 year's
wages], and the other fifty [2 month's wages]. And when
they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave
them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love
him more?' Simon answered and said, 'I suppose the one
whom he forgave more.' And He said to him, 'You have
rightly judged'" (vv.41-43).
The point is that sin incurs a debt that must be
cancelled or forgiven. The more aware we are of how much
we've been forgiven, the
more love we will have toward the one who cancels the
What is the offence or sin committed against us that
Jesus told us to respond to? While He was not specific,
we must remember that sin can be defined as any failure
to love. On another occasion, Jesus summed up our entire
obligation to God and to one another as a debt of love
(Mt. 22:37-40). Paul did the same when he said, "Owe no
one anything except to love one another" (Rom 13.8).
Jesus and Sinful People
What a contrast between the cruelty of
the scribes and Pharisees and the compassion of Jesus in
our Gospel. The scribes and Pharisees had no regard for
the woman. They were only interested in using her to
try to trap Jesus; she was a pawn in their game of
chess. They had no regard for the fact that maybe she
did not initiate the sin, maybe it was the other. But
Jesus is full of compassion. He restored the woman
again. He restored her in two ways. He restored her
spiritually by forgiving her, telling her he did not
condemn her, while also insisting that she not sin
again, and he restored her to society by saving her
life. No one knows what Jesus wrote on the ground
but some people suspect Jesus wrote the sins of the
scribes and Pharisees. Notice also that it was the
eldest who went away first, the eldest had committed
more sins, they had more to be sorry about in their own
lives. The woman received forgiveness from Jesus and
also received her life back again.
Sacrament of Reconciliation:
Notice Jesus’ last words to the woman, “go
away and don’t sin any more.” Although Jesus has
forgiven her sin he expects her to live a life of grace
and union with God from now on by not sinning any more.
Jesus doesn’t say that sin does not matter because sin
does matter and damages our relationship with God. When
we receive Jesus’ forgiveness he expects us to live as
new people afterwards. That is precisely the attitude
with which we are to come to receive the Sacrament of
Reconciliation. It would make no sense to come to
confession if we intended to continue committing the
same sin again. In weakness we may commit the same sin
again but as we come to confession if we do not intend
to amend our lives then surely we cannot say that we are
truly sorry for our sins. Surely we can only genuinely
say that we are truly sorry for our sins if we have a
firm intention not to commit sin again.
Beginning of Sin:
Sin begins in the mind, from there it
moves on to become an action, from there it moves on to
become a lifestyle, and then it affects us in eternity.
Jesus said not to sin again. We need to begin by
feeding our minds with what is good instead of with what
is rubbish. In our second reading today we see Paul
filling himself only with Jesus and cutting out all
rubbish from his life.
Our Sinful tendencies:
First of all a personal examination of conscience will
reveal that basically we are all sinners. We need a deep
purification. At times our confessions are just an
exercise to get rid of our fear of hell. Not real
repentance to come back to God. We are all filled with
the fear of hell, and consequently our repentance an
exercise of getting rid of our fears or torture and not
cultivation of love.
We have lot of tendencies in us: first of all,
like judging others as bad, insincere, rude, cruel.
Secondly, we look down upon others, considering that
we are the best, we excel in virtues, and devotions and
others are good for nothing. Thirdly, we consider
ourselves worthy of God’s love, forgiveness and
compassion; and at the same time we condemn others to
hell of fire.
Need to find out in your own environment events that can
strengthen your homily. Just observe people or listen to
them and you will find most of them condemning others
for the situation they are in. You can also listen to
yourself, and find out how many times you condemn others
in your thoughts through out the day. May be in a week
you must have condemned more people than those Scribes
We condemn poor people, drunkards, we condemn the
traffic on roads, and we are upset when climate is too
warm, too cold. We condemn the public departments. Well,
what have you done, to improve situations?
Now go and sin no more…
Dear friend, my
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Let us make this ministry
fruitful one so that the Word of God becomes a source of
joy for me and for you and help people become more aware
of its riches. You are also welcome to share your
feedback with me. Thanks and God bless.