5th Sunday of Lent 2019 (readings)
There’s quite a bit going on in the readings today; so let’s look at them briefly. In the first reading, we see a lot of imagery with deserts and wastelands, and in particular, we see the symbol of water in these places; and here that water is representing the grace of God. The first reading really is a reminder that our spiritual lives are a desert, a wasteland, if we don’t live with the grace of God. It’s only when we turn back to him that we’ll find that water in the desert, that we’ll find that river in the wasteland; and that it’ll transform our spiritual lives into gardens filled with God’s abundant mercy and love.
In today’s psalm we read, “they go forth weeping [and] they shall come back rejoicing.” This is a great metaphor for the lives of those who are already in heaven, the Saints; they went forth weeping at their birth, experienced all the difficulties of life and the final anguish of death, and now rejoice with the abundant harvest of eternal life and the vision of God. And they say to us today, “The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.”
The second reading today, from the letter of Paul to the Philippians, places an emphasis on considering everything as loss. Ok, kind of an interesting expression. But what Paul gets at here is a fundamental truth of Christianity: That knowing Jesus Christ is our supreme good. If then we have a conflict between a created good, and the Creator of all Good, we should choose the latter, which means the loss of the former.
The Gospel, then, brings all of this into focus for the woman caught in adultery, and for us too. Jesus Christ is the water, the grace, in the middle of the desert of the woman’s sin. She undoubtedly went to him weeping, assuming that the elders were going to stone her as the mosaic law demanded. But instead, Christ places himself between her and the punishment she should have received, just as he does on the Cross at the Crucifixion, just as he does for us today in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
So then, if we want to find that water
in the desert, we must know where it is, we must know Christ. If we want to
come back rejoicing, we must know Christ. Before we can count all as loss as
St. Paul does, we must know Christ. And the best way to do that is expressed in
the Gospel today: We go to Him who is love itself, and seek His forgiveness;
recognizing that we are in need of his mercy.
No matter our sin, we are that woman that is about to be stoned. And if we return to the Lord with our whole heart, as the verse before the Gospel says, we will find Him, we will find his love, we will find his mercy.
But there’s more to knowing Christ than just through his forgiveness in the confessional; more than just knowing him in our emotions, in our hearts. We must also know him in our mind, because this, according to St. Paul, is our supreme good.
So how do we come to know Christ? Simply, through his Church, through the scriptures, through studying the things of God.
My brothers and sisters, we only have 2 more weeks until Easter, and what better way to prepare for that, what better way to celebrate the resurrection, than by knowing Christ better than we do now?
St. Jerome, the one who translated the Bible from the original Greek and Hebrew into Latin, recommends reading Holy Scripture as a way to come to know Christ better. Since we’re still in Lent, this is a great thing to add to our Lenten practices: take a bible, or a bible app on your phone, set a timer for a minute, or two, or 5, however long, and just read. Start with John chapter 1 verse 1, and read until the timer goes off. If we do this every day until Easter (and even after), then by Easter we’ll have made great progress in coming to know Jesus Christ, our Supreme Good. Because as St. Jerome says, “Ignorance of Scripture, is ignorance of Christ.”