Detail from artist Alexander Ivanov’s 1835 painting “Christ’s Appearance to Mary Magdalene After the Resurrection” (RNS/Creative Commons)

 

First reading Isaiah 43:16-21

See, I am doing a new deed, and I will give my chosen people drink

Thus says the Lord,
who made a way through the sea,
a path in the great waters;
who put chariots and horse in the field
and a powerful army
which lay there never to rise again,
snuffed out, put out like a wick:
 
No need to recall the past,
no need to think about what was done before.
See, I am doing a new deed,
even now it comes to light; can you not see it?
Yes, I am making a road in the wilderness,
paths in the wilds.
 
The wild beasts will honour me,
jackals and ostriches,
because I am putting water in the wilderness
(rivers in the wild)
to give my chosen people drink.
The people I have formed for myself
will sing my praises.
 

Responsorial Psalm 125(126)

1 When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.”
3 The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.
4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the watercourses in the Negeb!
5 May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy!
6 He that goes forth weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

 

Second reading Philippians 3:8-14

I look on everything as so much rubbish if only I can have Christ

I believe nothing can happen that will outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For him I have accepted the loss of everything, and I look on everything as so much rubbish if only I can have Christ and be given a place in him. I am no longer trying for perfection by my own efforts, the perfection that comes from the Law, but I want only the perfection that comes through faith in Christ, and is from God and based on faith. All I want is to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and to share his sufferings by reproducing the pattern of his death. That is the way I can hope to take my place in the resurrection of the dead. Not that I have become perfect yet: I have not yet won, but I am still running, trying to capture the prize for which Christ Jesus captured me. I can assure you my brothers, I am far from thinking that I have already won. All I can say is that I forget the past and I strain ahead for what is still to come; I am racing for the finish, for the prize to which God calls us upwards to receive in Christ Jesus.
 

Gospel Acclamation Joel2:12-13

Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!
Now, now – it is the Lord who speaks –
come back to me with all your heart,
for I am all tenderness and compassion.
Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!
 

Gospel John 8:1-11

‘Let the one among you who has not sinned be the first to throw a stone’

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At daybreak he appeared in the Temple again; and as all the people came to him, he sat down and began to teach them.
  The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman along who had been caught committing adultery; and making her stand there in full view of everybody, they said to Jesus, ‘Master, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery, and Moses has ordered us in the Law to condemn women like this to death by stoning. What have you to say?’ They asked him this as a test, looking for something to use against him. But Jesus bent down and started writing on the ground with his finger. As they persisted with their question, he looked up and said, ‘If there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Then he bent down and wrote on the ground again. When they heard this they went away one by one, beginning with the eldest, until Jesus was left alone with the woman, who remained standing there. He looked up and said, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir’ she replied. ‘Neither do I condemn you,’ said Jesus ‘go away, and do not sin any more.’
 
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No sinner is beyond the love of God

In today’s gospel, the Pharisees brought an adulterous woman to Jesus. They wanted to stone her to death. Jesus acknowledged that the  woman had sinned, but He recognised that she was a person loved by God. He looked at her potential to change and live again. The  Pharisees wanted to throw stones of condemnation, but Jesus threw love by forgiving her and offering her another chance to live differently. No matter the sins we committed, God is always ready to draw close to us, not condemn us, but forgive us.
 
In His love, He always calls us to go beyond where we are and choose to be the persons He has created us to be. Today, let us listen to  Jesus as He tells us, “I do not condemn you. Go but do not sin again”. Let us not be like the Pharisees and set ourselves as morally superior to others. Instead, let us take the path of forgiveness, not condemnation, so that we can love as Jesus loved.
 
Question for reflection:
Do I tend to throw condemnation or forgiveness?
 
 
Acknowledgment: Reflections are based on “Prayer for Living: The Word of God for Daily Prayer Year C” by Sr Sandra Seow FMVD.