April 7, 2019 • Fifth Sunday in Lent
First Reading: Isaiah 43:16-21
Psalm: Psalm 126:1–2, 2-3, 4–5, 6 (3)
Second Reading: Philippians 3:8-14
Gospel Acclamation: Joel 2:12-13
Gospel: John 8:1-11
The readings for this Sunday are an encouragement and an exhortation to look forward to the future with hope and expectancy based in our relationship with God. Not that things are necessarily going to turn out the way we wanted them to, but that God is working for our good in all things.
The first reading is taken from the Book of Isaiah, Chapter 43, where God begins to speak to the people of Israel about their rescue and restoration from the coming Babylonian captivity and exile due to their unfaithfulness. God exhorts them to take their eyes off His mighty deliverance of them from the hands of the Egyptians in the past and instead to pay attention to His plans for their future after their exile. He will restore to them their land by providing a path and making the land flow with water for them, His chosen people.
Psalm 126 appears to have been written after they have been delivered from Babylon and have returned to their land, but the daunting work of rebuilding and restoring the land has just begun. So the psalm is a mixture of thanksgiving and praise on the one hand and requesting that God complete His promise that we saw in Isaiah 43 to make the land fruitful.
The Apostle Paul, in the second reading, looks back on his glory days as a Pharisee of Pharisees as so much rubbish in comparison to knowing Christ Jesus, his Lord, and all that comes with that relationship. Paul wants everything God has in store for him and is willing to exchange the things of life in this world for the things of heaven, which are imperishable and eternal, God’s upward call in Jesus Christ. It is a journey, and Paul is eagerly moving forward to embrace it all.
Jesus, in the Gospel reading from John 8, turns an event of sin, shame and fear of death in a woman’s life into an opportunity for new life for her. She stands on the threshold of a new beginning after Jesus silences her hypocritical, scheming accusers and absolves her of her sin.
So what can we learn from today’s readings?
As it says in Lamentations 3:22–28:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is thy faithfulness.
And as Jesus says in John 16:33b:
In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.
Every day is a new day, in which we can go forth with Jesus, confessing and forsaking our sins and looking to the glorious future He has planned for us, as we run the path He has set before us.