(Note: Today’s reflection is on the two gospel options for the day. I list them below.)
John 8:1-11 John 11:1-45
This weekend, depending upon which Mass you attend, you could hear either of two different gospel readings. Both feature powerful encounters, with Jesus in the center of each.
In the eighth chapter of The Gospel of John, we find the story of the woman who is caught in adultery. Most of the time in the gospels, when we encounter the Scribes and the Pharisees, we are critical of them. It seems that they are usually trying to trick Jesus, to trip him up, to catch him breaking one of the hundreds of religious laws they followed. Well, today is no different, in that regard. But, take note! Today they actually do something that should cause all of us to pause - and think. Jesus teaches them a lesson, and they get it! When he suggests that the one among them who is without sin should cast the first stone at the woman, they drop their stones and walk away. This is an admirable response. More times than I can count, I have been quick to judge someone whom I feel has offended me, or has acted in a way that I consider “sinful”. Rushing to judgement is a fault of mine - and Lent is a great time to work on correcting that fault…remembering that it is not my place to judge.
The other gospel of the day, which is read at the Mass attended by catechumens and candidates, presents the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. A powerful miracle in its own rite; there is an even more significant message being conveyed here. In the story, we learn that Jesus took a great risk to go to the tomb of Lazarus, in order to offer him the gift of life once again. Many were looking for Jesus at the time, and some were determined to do him harm. Thinking about this resurrection story, I realize that Jesus came into the world to offer us all the gift of eternal life, and it cost him his own life - and a great deal of suffering in the process.
Jesus will continue to do whatever is necessary in order to reach out to us - offering us his mercy and his love. But, because he loves us so much, he will not force us to love him in return. Rather, he gives us free will - to accept or to reject that love.
We are all spiritually “sick” to some degree (because we are all sinners). We all need the Lord’s help in order to “rise” above our sinfulness. While, in this life, we will never be perfect; we have all got a lot of room to grow! How will we respond?