Msgr. Beaulieu – On the Weekday Gospels of the Fifth Week of Lent

Monday, March 27John 8:1-11

The eighth chapter of John’s Gospel takes place in the temple, and it begins and ends with an attempted stoning. At the beginning, the Pharisees attempt to stone the woman; by the end, there is an attempt to stone Jesus. The opening verses concerning the woman caught in adultery is a later insertion here, missing from all early Greek manuscripts. In the manuscript tradition, the passage is found here at the beginning of chapter 8, elsewhere after John 7:36 or at the end of this gospel. It even is attested to at Luke 21:38, or at the end of Luke’s gospel. The scribes and Pharisees are seeking to trap Jesus by putting him in a seemingly impossible situation. On the one hand they saw that his teaching about the mercy of God for sinners appealed to the crowds; on the other hand, the clear teaching of Moses about the just punishment due for the sin of adultery seemed to contradict Jesus’ teaching about the mercy of God. Jesus bends down and begins to write in the earth. And this is all done in silence. What does this mean? St. Thomas Aquinas, with the keenness of his mystical insight, says that this action signifies that God in his mercy is stooping down to assist sinful humanity.

Tuesday, March 28John 8:21-30

In the Gospel, Jesus expounds on His relationship with the Father. The Father is the One who sent Jesus into the world for His mission and Jesus acknowledges that the Father will not leave Him alone.  Jesus says this, knows it and experiences the blessing of that relationship in His human and divine Heart. While Jesus was sent from on high, God the Father has sent us, too. All of us have a particular mission in life. The glad tidings of salvation is also comforting news serving to remind us that God does not just send us, He also remains with us. God has not left us alone to fulfill the mission that He entrusted us with. He has promised His continued help in a very central way.

Wednesday, March 29John 8:31-42

In a world where the reality of sin has been devalued, too many people have become comfortable with sin and sinning. Such a denial of sin and evil offers a deceptive satisfaction that is often hard to turn away from.  Sin can make you “feel” good in the moment, even though the long-term effects are that it strips your freedom and joy. The process of “letting go” of sin requires true sacrifice and commitment.  It requires you to turn to the Lord in absolute trust and abandon.  In doing so, you experience a sort of death to yourself, to your passions and to your own selfish will.  This hurts, at least on the level of your fallen human nature.  But it’s like a surgery that has the goal of removing cancer or some infection.  The surgery itself may hurt, but it is the only way to be freed of the malady you have.  The Son is the Divine Surgeon and the way He sets you free is through His own suffering and death.

Thursday, March 30John 8: 51-59

Avoid following down the path that leads to obstinacy. Outrageous, defamatory statements require great humility to retract such a statement after it’s been publicly stated. Like the religious leaders of the Jews, who accused Jesus of being in league with the devil, when you verbalize something damaging in regard to someone else, the damage is done and it’s almost impossible to undo it. Even apologizing is hard and, though recommended, seldom mends the wound that was caused.  The damage is primarily personal in nature and, as such, it is harder to let go of the mistaken judgment and to humbly move forward.

Friday, March 31John 10:31-42

Whenever we are confronted by some cross, at times, it is like getting hit in the stomach. Too often, such a threat elicits inner turmoil, which can easily morph into panic and fear. Yet, in such trying times, more than any other, that’s when we need to stand strong, while also remaining humble and never waiver in what we know to be true about all that God has said and revealed. Such perseverance in the face of the cross deepens our ability to trust God in all things. It is always easier to profess our trust in God when life is going smoothly, but it is hard to continue to trust in His providence when the cross becomes heavier than ever before.

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