In the First Reading from the Prophet Isaiah (Cycle C) God tells us to “Remember not the things of the past, the things long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new!” We are told to leave our sinful past; and to seek a new life in holiness and in God’s love. We all know that it is so hard, though, to let go of our regrets of sin and our choices—but unless they fuel forward movement to something new—they will weigh us down and paralyze any movement at all.
St. Paul talks of “straining forward to what lies ahead, I (we!) continue my (our!) pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling…” We understand that we are asked to do the same as he did. In fact, the Gospel Acclamation today (Year C) asks us to turn to the Lord with your whole heart, for the Lord is gracious and merciful. We all need the gracious and merciful love of God in any endeavor we may pursue in our upward calling to holiness.
The Gospel story today is about the stoning of the adulterous woman: the trap for Jesus laid by the Pharisees. Jesus simply responds to them that the person who is without sin should throw the first stone; and of course, they all leave—for who among any of us is without sin? Jesus then tells the woman to go and sin no more⎯to leave her past behind and move on to a better future; to unburden herself of her past and strive for holiness. We Catholics enjoy this gift and Sacrament of Reconciliation and Absolution!
We are all asked to be like the adulterous woman regarding our own sins and our own struggles for grace. And, like those Pharisees, we are also reminded about our deplorable attitudes of judgment and condemnation toward ourselves and others.
This is the spirit of the Lenten Season: our reconciliation, our striving to change, and our conversion. As Disciples of Christ we must pursue this “upward calling.” No more stone throwing!
Today the Responsorial Psalm (Year A) is: “With the Lord there is mercy, and fulness of redemption.” We know that in our strivings we may fail; but the idea is to begin again, and to keep working to be the best versions of ourselves that God made us to be. It’s such a grace for us that God is merciful and forgiving—our job is to work in the Kingdom for God’s “upward calling.” The work itself may be your redemption… This is always the goal and the prize. I invite you to use this psalm refrain as comfort and as a breath prayer. We have the fulness of redemption! Keep breathing! Keep striving! Keep praying!