Fifth Sunday of Lent

 

Christ and the woman taken in adultery art by lorenzo lotto
Christ and the woman taken in adultery, art by Lorenzo Lotto

 

 

Cycle C: John 8: 1-11


The Pharisees bring to Jesus a woman caught in the act of adultery to see if he will condemn her. Jesus simply says to them, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone at her.”


 

In John Cheever’s short story “The Country Husband,” Francis Weed is attending a cocktail party, when the maid serving the drinks arrests his attention. Francis had seen her before, when he was station in Trenon, France, at the end of World War II. She had been the subject of a public chastisement because she had lived with the German commandant during the Occupation.

It was a cool morning in the fall. The sky was overcast and poured down onto the dirt crossroads a very discouraging light…. The prisoner arrived sitting on a tree-legged stool in a farm cart. She stood by the cart while the mayor read the accusation and the sentence. Her head was bent … [and] when the mayor was finished, she undid her hair … and a little man with a gray mustache cut off her hair with shears and dropped it on the ground. Then, with a bowl of soapy water and a straight razor, he shaved her skull clean. A woman approached and began to undo the fastenings of her clothes…. She [stood there] naked. The women jeered; the men were still … the cold wind made her white skin rough and hardened the nipples of her breasts. The jeering ended gradually, put down by the recognition of their common humanity. (391)

When Jesus tells the scribes and Pharisees, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her,” he invited them to recognize the common humanity that they shared with the woman. He didn’t condemn the Pharisees and scribes any more than he condemn the woman. He simply bent down and gave them time to reflect upon their lives. We are told that they drifted away one by one, beginning with the oldest.

The judgment of the Pharisees and scribes was not rash, for the woman was guilty of adultery. Rather, it was harsh. But once they reflected upon their own sins and their desire for a merciful judgment from God, they could recognize their common, frail humanity in the shamed, guilt ridden creature that stood before them. As their judgments softened, their clenched fists loosened and they released the stones they were holding.

 

~ A Meditation by Marc Foley, O.C.D.

 

 

 

 

He Thirsts For You!

 

He thirsts for you
My photo, April 2019

 

I just got back from the Canadian Conference on Evangelization & Catechesis – He thirsts for you!  in Ottawa from April 4th to 6th. It was a time of great fellowship among many friends from the different Dioceses in Canada. We all had the blessing to listen to great keynote speakers like Dr. Josephine Lombardi, presenting ‘At the well: The encounter that transforms’; Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI, presenting ‘From the well to the world’; and  Most Rev. William McGrattan, Bishop of Calgary, presenting ‘Returning to the well: Ongoing transformation’. We also enjoyed the beautiful presentation of my dear friend and sister in Carmel Elisa Lollino, OCDS. She did her one-woman play ‘He thirsts for you’.
We also had the wonderful opportunity to attend a variety of educational and inspirational workshops. They helped us to expand our minds and hearts in the Christian faith so we can share it with others.

In the ‘Letter of Welcome’ of the Most Rev. Lionel Gendron, President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, he stated: “Inspired by the Gospel of John 4: 5-42 the phrase He thirsts for you speaks of God’s desire that we experience deeply his love for us. Saint Teresa of Calcutta, in one of her letters, asks a very important question of the members of the Missionaries of Charity:

Why does Jesus say “I Thirst”? What does it mean? Something so hard to explain in words—if you remember anything from Mother’s letter, remember this—“I thirst” is something much deeper than Jesus saying “I love you.” Until you know deep inside that Jesus thirsts for you—you can’t begin to know who He wants to be for you. Or who He wants you to be for Him. (Mother Teresa, Letter to Her Spiritual Family, March 25, 1993)

It is this thirst that the Samaritan woman experiences in her encounter with Jesus at the well. It is this thirst which propels her to go and enthusiastically tell others about what she has learned from Him. It is this thirst that makes her a missionary disciple.

Like the Samaritan woman, we too are called and empowered to become ever more missionary disciples who, having encountered Christ, are filled with the Spirit and sent to spread the Good News. We are sent forth to share with our brothers and sisters that, by the death and resurrection of Jesus, we have been saved, we are loved deeply and in a transforming way for God.”

 

Jesus and the samaritan woman
Art source unknown

 

Woman

Walking
in the searing sunlight.
Glare stinging my eyes
with sudden tears.
Behind the fortress walls
of surrounding houses
They surely watch.

I can barely raise
one foot after another.
Dust chokes
my dry mouth.
This pot, my burden
Unfilled,
like a dead weight
on my body.

I walk
this daily walk
of torment.
I walk
Alone.
It has been
for such a long time now.
Must it always be so?

The Well

Today I met him
such a man
as I have longed to meet
for all my life.
Today I met him, I
will never be the same again.

Today I talked to him
such a man
as I have longed to talk to
all my life.
A man who talked with me
as if he had known me
all my life.

Today he looked at me.
He smiled at me
as none else has ever done before.
He knew my sin
and yet
he took my cup.

Joy unquenchable
fills me,
Messiah.
I will speak his words
throughout the land.
I will never be the same.
Because today
I met Him.

~ A poem by Josephine Collett