Homily for the 5th Sunday of Lent Year C
Theme: The Woman That Jesus Rescued
By: Fr. Luke Ijezie
Homily for Sunday April 3 2022
Resp. Psalm: 126:1-6
1. We encounter God most intimately in His word. Each time we read the Sacred page, we find ourselves in a new encounter that continues to interrogate us as we also continue to get used to it. In this 5th Sunday of Lent, the Church presents us with new contexts for this divine encounter. In the readings of today, we meet God who promises to make all things new. This newness is what we encounter in all the readings. It is epitomised in the encounter between Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. But who really was this woman?
2. The story of this woman, as recounted in John 8:1-11, is one of the most famous stories of the Bible. The interesting thing is that the woman is not named. So her identity all through the ages has remained that of “the woman caught in adultery”. This has become her name. In fact, she was not innocent. Jesus knew it. She was guilty as accused. She also knew it. One cannot but imagine her shame as she stood there in the temple before Jesus and the irate crowd all ready for the immediate jungle justice.
Gradually, Jesus begins to let us know who the woman is. He throws the unexpected punch: “If there is any of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Silence! Shock! Nobody dared. Hmmmm! One imagines that the mother of Jesus was not there. What really has Jesus just done? To condone evil? No! No one challenged him. Everyone knew he was right. He had punctured their ego. He had exposed their hypocrisy. No one dared to brave it. What type of fellow is this Jesus? He just concluded the case. Everyone was guilty. Not only the woman. So who was this woman? She represented every sinner. Since she represented all, every other one had to go: one by one, they left.
Now it was only the woman left with Jesus. What a pitiful sight! One great ancient Christian author saw the woman as misery (miseria) while Jesus was Mercy ( Misericordia). So what we see is a drama of miseria standing before Misericordia. In that woman, every sinner finds himself or herself. Jesus has not come to condemn but to save that which was lost. That is why he tells the woman: “Neither do I condemn you, Go and sin no more!”
3. Like this woman, we are all wounded by sin and liable to death. But Jesus, the Good Shepherd comes to rescue us. So this woman caught in adultery symbolises the entire miserable humanity that now encounters its redeemer and deliverer. There is no need anymore to remember the past of sin and misery, as the first reading from Isaiah 43 says. God is doing a new thing. In Jesus, God is beginning a new humanity, a new creation, a new story, a super story. That is why the Apostle Paul tells the Philippians in the second reading from Phil 3:8-14, I look on everything as much rubbish if only I can have Christ and be given a place in him.
4. These readings give us hope and courage to keep struggling as we have a merciful Saviour. Despite our weaknesses and atrocities, he is always there for us. Even as we begin to lose hope for our society and country Nigeria, the word of God keeps encouraging us to remain hopeful and positive. Even as we continue to lacerate one another and close the door of hope and communion with one another, we are warned not to throw the first stone. Yes, God’s ways are not our ways. When we condemn, he rescues. When we shut people out, he welcomes them. That is why the psalmist sings: “When the Lord delivered Zion from bondage, it seemed like a dream” (Ps 125:1).
May this Jesus who mercifully rescued this woman wounded by sin continue to stand by us in all trials! Amen!
Fr. Luke Ijezie