Lectionary Reflections: Fifth Sunday of Lent [c] March 17, 2013

Engaging Faith | Thu, Mar 7, 2013

By John Buckie, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

Fifth Sunday of Lent


Isaiah 43:16-21

Philippians 3:8-14

John 8:1-11



March 17: Feast of Saint Patrick

March 20: First Day of Spring 

March 21: International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 

March 22: World Water Day 

March 23: Earth Hour (8:30pm local time) 

March 24: Anniversary of Archbishop Oscar Romero's Assassination in 1980

March 24: Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion 



“In the New Testament, Jesus consistently reached out to those on the fringes of society, those without power or authority, those with no one to speak on their behalf. He taught that all women and men are individuals worthy of respect and dignity.”

- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “When I Call for Help,” 10

“In proclaiming the liberation of Israel, God's word proclaims the liberation of all people from slavery.”

- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Brothers and Sisters to Us”

“In every age the true and perennial ‘newness of things’ comes from the infinite power of God, who says: ‘Behold, I make all things new’ (Rev 21:5). These words refer to the fulfillment of history, when Christ ‘delivers the Kingdom to God the Father ... that God may be everything to everyone’ (1 Cor 15:24, 28). But the Christian well knows that the newness which we await in its fullness at the Lord's second coming has been present since the creation of the world, and in a special way since the time when God became man in Jesus Christ and brought about a ‘new creation’ with him and through him (2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15).

- Pope John Paul II, “Centesimus Annus”

“Christ's way of acting, the Gospel of his words and deeds, is a consistent protest against whatever offends the dignity of women.”

- Pope John Paul II

“The world is complex and this may often tempt us to seek simple and self-centered solutions; but as a community of disciples we are called to a new hope and to a new vision that we must live without fear and without oversimplification.”

- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Economic Justice for All,” 326


Thoughts for your consideration

Sometimes we are like the men in the gospel today who want to throw stones at others, especially those we don’t like or don’t approve of or find to be different. Maybe we don’t actually throw stones, but we feel like it. Sometimes our political or religious discourse feels like people throwing verbal stones at one another. Sometimes it seems like we have lost our way as a people or maybe that God’s healing and reconciling spirit is asleep.

Sometimes we hear people say: “It is hopeless and difficult and it cannot be done. It will always be that way. Things cannot change.”  They might be referring to something in their personal life or they might be referring to something in their place of business or church or neighborhood or government or world.

Today Isaiah says that change and growth can happen. Something new can take place. 

     Remember not the events of the past,

     the things of long ago consider not;

     see, I am doing something new!

     Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

     In the desert I make a way,

     in the wasteland, rivers.

In the same spirit of great optimism, Paul is “forgetting what lies behind” and “straining forward to what lies ahead,” continuing his “pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God's upward calling, in Christ Jesus.”

Aware of your past, do you find yourself feeling hopeless or do you find yourself ready to keep going forward, confident in God? As you become more aware of the “sin of the world,” are you overcome by hopelessness or are you ready to keep running forward in the power of Jesus Christ? 

Are world powers always going to solve their disputes through war and the threat of war?

Will there always be such grave economic inequality between rich and poor?

Will 20 percent of U.S. children always live in poverty?

Will corporations always seem to have more power and rights than average people?

Will developing countries always be so poor?

Will minorities in the United States always seem to get second-rate schools?

Will women always be denied equal rights with men?

Will the United States ever be able to offer universal health care?

Will bankers always seem to get what they want from government?


Using the image of the gospel, will men in authority always want to throw stones at people they call sinners? Can a sinner ever be allowed to get a fresh start? Can we allow a new way of living with each other?  


The gospel story of the woman caught in adultery offers us an opportunity to reflect on the treatment of women in our society and our church.  Like the group in the gospel, we sometimes judge women and men by different standards. Sometimes women are not offered equal opportunities or pay.  Sometimes women are denied the same legal rights as men.  Sometimes women are victims of domestic violence or victims of human trafficking.  Pope John Paul II wrote: “Christ's way of acting, the Gospel of his words and deeds, is a consistent protest against whatever offends the dignity of women.”  How does Jesus in today’s gospel challenge us?


Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

What is the hardest sin for you to forgive?  When have you publicly condemned others?


Where in our world have your seen people treated as the woman in the gospel?

Where in our world have you seen women unfairly treated or discriminated against?


Three boys accused of stealing watermelons were brought to court and faced the judge nervously, expecting the worst, for he was known to be a severe man. He was also a wise educator. With a rap of his gavel he said. “Any man in here who never stole a single watermelon when he was a boy raise his hand.” He waited. The court officials, policeman, spectators and the judge himself kept their hands on the desks in front of them. When he was satisfied that not a single hand was raised in the court, the judge said. “Case dismissed.”


Actions - Links

Earth Hour

Every year on Earth Hour, hundreds of millions of people around the world will come together to call for action on climate change by doing something quite simple - turning off their lights for one hour.”  This year earth hour starts on Saturday, March 23, at 8:30 p.m. local time. Get info at

A Covenant with Creation: Pope Benedict’s Teaching on the Environment, by Fr. Fred Kammer, S.J.\xbb%27]

The Daily Opportunity Index

Here is something to think about rather than the stock averages as a measure of well-being.

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 

This day is celebrated on March 21.  Get info at 

For a brief summary of Catholic Social Teaching and racism go to:


“Crazy Facts”


* 4 million Americans who have completed prison sentences are ineligible to vote. 38 percent of disenfranchised voters are African-American.

* 13 percent of African-American men cannot vote due to criminal records, a rate seven times the national average.

* The United States and Belgium are the only democracies that disenfranchise citizens for lengthy or indefinite periods after completing prison sentences.


Prayers of Intercession

Response: God of justice, help us to do something new.

For an end to the wars in Afghanistan, the Congo, Syria, and all the many places around our world, we pray…..

For an end to all economic injustice and the gross inequality between rich and poor, we pray….

For all our children, especially the 20 percent of U.S. children who live in poverty, we pray…..

For all the people of our world who do not have access to decent and affordable health care, we pray….

For all the women of our world, that they will be given equal rights and enjoy their full dignity as human beings, we pray….

For our church, as we strive to live out the spirit, unity, and love which Jesus came to share, we pray….

For all of us, that we not throw stones at each other, but seek to understand and support each other as we to create a world of justice and mercy, we pray….



God, I believe that you can do new things.  Help my unbelief!

I believe that you can help us to make a way in the desert. Help my unbelief.

I believe that you want to create rivers through the wasteland. Help my unbelief.

I believe that we are not stuck to just repeat the evils of the past.  Help my unbelief.

I believe that I can do things that I was not able to do before.  Help my unbelief.

I believe that I might be able to forgive my enemy.  Help my unbelief.

I believe that peace among nations is possible.  Help my unbelief.

I believe that we can overcome the ways of violence. Help my unbelief.

I believe that we can eliminate hunger and poverty.  Help my unbelief

I believe that we can overcome racism. Help my unbelief.

I believe that we can create homes for everyone.  Help my unbelief.

I believe that we can finally drop the stones of condemnation. Help my unbelief.

I believe that we will have a new heaven and a new earth. Help my unbelief.

God, I believe that together we can do new things.  Help my unbelief! Amen.



Copyright © 2013, Center of Concern