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Pastor's Letter 20220403 - 03 April 2022 - Racing to Grasp the Prize

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April 3rd, 2022

Fifth Sunday of Lent


Jesus with the woman caught in adultery

A Message from Father Michael

Today’s Theme:  “Racing to Grasp the Prize” 

Reflections on Today’s Scripture

Isaiah speaks to the captives in Babylon in terms familiar to them from the book of Exodus—and their release from the bondage in Egypt (Isaiah 43:16-21.)  He labors to lend hope and encouragement by exhorting his fellow Jews to remember the wondrous acts of God all through the stages of their development as a people.  He challenges them to look to the future for divine acts of mercy and power, rather than dwell on memories of the past.  In this way, Isaiah called his people to prepare themselves for the continuation of the process of redemption rather than a repetition of an ancient history.  


Paul looked at all his former advantages of Roman citizenship as “loss,” when compared to the wealth of blessings granted by Jesus Christ.  In this way, in our Second Reading (Philippians 3:8-14,) he sought to defend Christianity against certain elements in Philippi who militated against the healthy spiritual development of the community.  Paul saw himself, and all Christians, at a “midpoint”—between being blameless in God’s sight, and having been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.  He believed he had become justified because of Jesus—and by faith in Him—but had not yet been perfected.  This placed him at odds with the zealous Jews and “righteous” new Christians of his time.  The message to us, then is: redemption is a process that continues throughout our lives, as we seek to be more Christlike in our lives.


Today’s Gospel (John 8:1-11,) focuses on the attitudes of the self-appointed, righteous ones whose harsh judgments clouded their consciences to their own sinfulness.  Jesus’ writing on the ground mirrored Roman legal practice, wherein a judge would first write down the sentence before reading it to the accused.  There is now sure way of knowing what He wrote; it may be that He merely wished to show He was unmoved by the accusations of the self-righteous.  However, whatever He wrote, and His statement about the first to cast a stone arrested His hearers and completely shattered the force of their argument against the woman.  Later, alone with her, Jesus exercised His authority and pardoned her, not as a judge, but as a Savior—without ignoring her sin, Then she was invited to go on her way, resolute to obey the law and renew her conscience, as she reformed her behavior.  We take the lesson that Jesus offers us with His loving mercy, in the same way.

Hope for the Future

In our everyday lives, we associate with people who are optimists and pessimists, and we recognize we have both these traits in ourselves.  Pessimists take the gloomiest possible view of the human condition.  Some are captives of the “good old days”—of what is not anymore and never will be again.  They spurn creativity because they regard all efforts as doomed to fail at the outset.  This strongly contrasts with the “Spirit of ’76.”  Imagine if the Founding Fathers had fostered this kind of thinking!  They were truly optimists, looking forward to a bright future—the most noble political experiment the world has ever known!  As such, they were creative and dynamic. They had confidence in life.

However many experiences we have had in the past, we must look the future!  By definition, Christians are optimists.  As far as the past is concerned, they believe in a merciful God, Who forgives the penitent sinner.  As far as the future is concerned, they know that they will overcome misery and evil and build a better future because they have faith in Someone, Who is stronger than themselves.  

Life is a constant challenge: The future of our families, our successes in business or occupations, or our personal growth through human relations.  With confidence in God, we joyfully accept these challenges.  

The challenges people face, even in the most adequate life, can be depressing.  However, often it may be our own fault—due to the choices we make—that we find ourselves “in a mess.”  Are we then to take refuge in the many remedies for depression recommended by the media—or perhaps turn to the escapisms of alcohol and illicit drugs?  Better we try to heed the Bible messages of today’s Mass:  If your faith is weak, ask God to strengthen it!  That is the most efficacious use of “prayer”—to call upon your inner Spirit for personal strength and guidance.  You have been given the talents and gifts to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.  Whatever the case, there is never too big a problem that cannot be solved by prayerful meditation, seeking guidance from “God within you,” or, sometimes in concert with others who face similar problems.  So never lose faith in Christ’s promise:  “I will be with you to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20.)  

Christ’s Way

There is no more judgmental and condemnatory person than a self-righteous phony.  Where others are concerned, such a one has such high standards; makes such exacting demands; accepts no excuses; makes no exceptions; and tolerates no slip-ups.  But when it comes to themselves, they can be so blind and all-forgiving!

The opposite is also true….  There is no more compassionate and understand person towards those who fall than one who is genuinely holy.  This is exemplified in the lives of the saints, and especially in the life of Jesus.  Today’s lesson about the adulterous woman is just such an example:  on the surface, there appears to be only one sin involved—that of adultery.  But there are other sins as well, and very serious ones, at that:

• There is the horrible sin involved in the way the Scribes and Pharisees treated the woman—exposing her to the most humiliating kind of public shaming.  People have been known to commit suicide rather than face public ridicule.  They showed not the slightest regard for her feelings, nor the tiniest shred of concern for her as a person.  She was someone they could use to entrap Jesus.  She was to them what bait is to fishermen.  The bait is gladly sacrificed in the hope of catching a fish.  To use another person in this way is truly despicable.

• Then there is the sin involved in their attitude towards Jesus.  These were men pursuing the path of darkness with only one aim—to get rid of Jesus.  In other words, they had murder on their minds.  Yet, in spite of the way they shamed and humiliated the woman, and the murderous attitudes they harbored towards Jesus, there is something marvelously gentle and subtle in the way Jesus dealt with them.  Rather than condemn them, He exposed them—but didn’t spell it out in public.  He didn’t even judge them, but invited them to judge themselves.  Instead of answering their accusations directly, He began to write in the dirt.  This gave them time to examine their own consciences.  

And what a contrast there was in they way the Pharisees treated the woman and how Jesus did it.  He corrected her, but ever so gently.  Like a good surgeon, with a combination of courtesy, gentleness and tenderness while using a scalpel, He offered her mercy and forgiveness, not judgment.  He did not come to earth to expose the sores of people, but to heal them.  

Jesus illuminated a dark scene with the radiance of His compassion.  Here we have a wonderful lesson:  it’s easy to condemn others, but in doing so, we commit another sin.  Correction of others requires diplomacy and tact; kindness and honesty at the same time.  We must look at ourselves and be willing to extend to others the same compassion we would like to receive in a similar situation.  There is no more important thing in life than to show compassion for a fellow human being.  And always remember that honesty for honesty’s sake can be very destructive….   

  May God Richly Bless You!

"Judgements prevent us from seeing the good that lies beyond appearances."

~~Dr. Wayne Dyer~~

Lenten Meditation.docx

To view a recording of today's Holy Mass, click here:  


Edited by Father Michael
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