Fifth Sunday of Lent – C



Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”



Prayer to Turn from Sin

Father, Your Love never fails.

Keep me from danger

and provide for all my needs.

Teach me to be thankful for Your Gifts.

Confident in Your Love,

may I be holy by sharing Your Life,

and grant me forgiveness of my sins.

May Your unfailing Love turn me from sin

and keep me on the way that leads to you.

Help me to grow in Christian love.

I ask this and all things through

Christ our Lord. Amen.


By your help, we beseech you, Lord our God,

may we walk eagerly in that same charity

with which, out of love for the world,

your Son handed himself over to death.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.



Is 43:16-21

Thus says the LORD,

who opens a way in the sea

and a path in the mighty waters,

who leads out chariots and horsemen,

a powerful army,

till they lie prostrate together, never to rise,

snuffed out and quenched like a wick.

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.

Wild beasts honor me,

jackals and ostriches,

for I put water in the desert

and rivers in the wasteland

for my chosen people to drink,

the people whom I formed for myself,

that they might announce my praise.



CCC 711 “Behold, I am doing a new thing.”1 Two prophetic lines were to develop, one leading to the expectation of the Messiah, the other pointing to the announcement of a new Spirit. They converge in the small Remnant, the people of the poor, who await in hope the “consolation of Israel” and “the redemption of Jerusalem.”2

We have seen earlier how Jesus fulfills the prophecies concerning himself. We limit ourselves here to those in which the relationship of the Messiah and his Spirit appears more clearly.

1 Isa 43:19.

2 Cf. Zeph 2:3; Lk 2:25, 38.



During Lent the Church is helping us to prepare for the great events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. These events set us free from the slavery resulting from sin but also raised us up to be sons of God and heirs to the eternal kingdom of heaven. They were foreshadowed in the liberation of the Chosen People, first from Egypt and later from their Babylonian exile.

When God brought them out of Egypt he gave them the country of Canaan to be their own kingdom. Because of their sinful, worldly lives and their neglect of their kind God, they lost their homeland and were taken prisoners to Babylon (586 B.C.). But he was merciful to them once more, brought them back to their home, and established them there once again.

In both of these acts of his mercy, and in all his loving kindness to the Chosen People of old down through the ages, God had not the Jews alone in mind. Through them he was planning for the great future liberation of all mankind which the death and resurrection of his divine Son was to bring about.

The death of Christ atoned for the sins of the whole world. His resurrection is the proof and the guarantee of our resurrection to an unending life of happiness in God’s kingdom. In baptism we die with Christ and coming out of the waters of baptism we rise with him to a new life. As St. Paul says, we are a “new creation.” We are new creatures, because we become sons of God by being made brothers of Christ in our baptism.

Unfortunately we often forget our eternal destiny. We live on earth as if it were our eternal home when we are really only passing through. We may and we must use the things of this life. God created them for our use, and made us masters of all created, earthly goods. It is not the proper use of this world’s goods that will impede us on our road to heaven. It is not by mastering created things that we sin. It is by letting these gifts, intended by the Creator for our use, become our masters and make us their slaves. This is what happens to so many. They become so fully occupied in the pursuit of possessions. power, and pleasure, that they forget God and their own eternal destiny.

The holy season of Lent is an ideal time for us to have an honest look into our consciences. We would all like to rise with Christ and enter the eternal kingdom prepared and won for us by Christ’s life and suffering. We shall do so only if we are following him closely during our few years on earth. Am I carrying my cross and climbing my Calvary slowly but willingly day by day? This is the test of a true Christian.



Ps 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6

The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,

we were like men dreaming.

Then our mouth was filled with laughter,

and our tongue with rejoicing.

The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

Then they said among the nations,

The LORD has done great things for them.”

The LORD has done great things for us;

we are glad indeed.

The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

Restore our fortunes, O LORD,

like the torrents in the southern desert.

Those that sow in tears

shall reap rejoicing.

The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

Although they go forth weeping,

carrying the seed to be sown,

They shall come back rejoicing,

carrying their sheaves.

The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.



Phil 3:8-14

Brothers and sisters:

I consider everything as a loss

because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.

For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things

and I consider them so much rubbish,

that I may gain Christ and be found in him,

not having any righteousness of my own based on the law

but that which comes through faith in Christ,

the righteousness from God,

depending on faith to know him and the power of his resurrection

and the sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death,

if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

It is not that I have already taken hold of it

or have already attained perfect maturity,

but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it,

since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ Jesus.

Brothers and sisters, I for my part

do not consider myself to have taken possession.

Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind

but straining forward to what lies ahead,

I continue my pursuit toward the goal,

the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.



CCC 133 The Church “forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful. .. to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.”1

CCC 428 Whoever is called “to teach Christ” must first seek “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus”; he must suffer “the loss of all things. ..” in order to “gain Christ and be found in him”, and “to know him and the power of his resurrection, and [to] share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible [he] may attain the resurrection from the dead”.2

CCC 648 Christ’s Resurrection is an object of faith in that it is a transcendent intervention of God himself in creation and history. In it the three divine persons act together as one, and manifest their own proper characteristics. The Father’s power “raised up” Christ his Son and by doing so perfectly introduced his Son’s humanity, including his body, into the Trinity. Jesus is conclusively revealed as “Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his Resurrection from the dead”.3 St. Paul insists on the manifestation of God’s power4 through the working of the Spirit who gave life to Jesus’ dead humanity and called it to the glorious state of Lordship.

CCC 989 We firmly believe, and hence we hope that, just as Christ is truly risen from the dead and lives for ever, so after death the righteous will live for ever with the risen Christ and he will raise them up on the last day.5 Our resurrection, like his own, will be the work of the Most Holy Trinity:

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you.6

CCC 1006 “It is in regard to death that man’s condition is most shrouded in doubt.”7 In a sense bodily death is natural, but for faith it is in fact “the wages of sin.”8 For those who die in Christ’s grace it is a participation in the death of the Lord, so that they can also share his Resurrection.9

1 DV 25; cf. Phil 3:8 and St. Jerome, Commentariorum in Isaiam libri xviii prol.: PL 24, 17B.

2 Phil 3:8-11.

3 Rom I 3-4; cf. Acts 2:24.

4 Cf. Rom 6:4; 2 Cor 13:4; Phil 3:10; Eph 1:19-22; Heb 7:16.

5 Cf. Jn 6:39-40.

6 Rom 8:11; cf. 1 Thess 4:14; 1 Cor 6:14; 2 Cor 4:14; Phil 3:10-11.

7 GS 18.

8 Rom 6:23; cf. Gen 2:17.

9 Cf. Rom 6:3-9; Phil 3:10-11.



Like St. Paul, we too have the Christian faith, we are firmly convinced that Christ was the Son of God who became man, that he died for us and was raised from the dead. We are firmly convinced too that God’s ultimate destiny for us in the Incarnation is an unending life in heaven, and that we can win this eternal life if we follow the teaching and the example of Christ. To die with Christ during our earthly life means to carry cheerfully the cross that God allots us. We know that if we do this we shall, on the day of resurrection, rise to a new life that will never end. This is our Christian faith. It is based on God’s revelation and promise. And it is the only truly satisfying explanation of human life that we have. But as St. Paul tells us today, it is not enough just to be a Christian. Paul’s own life, which from his conversion on was given entirely to the service of Christ, proves this. Being a Christian is but the first step on the right road. There are many more steps to take before we reach our eternal goal. Of course, it is true that we are not all called on to suffer all that St. Paul suffered for Christ. We are however called on to live our Christian lives within the laws laid down for us by Christ and by the Church which he founded to guide us on our way to heaven.

If we remind ourselves frequently of “the prize to which God calls us,” an eternal happy life, the affairs of this world will seem very paltry and very trifling. They will not come between us and the winning post. Rather will they help us on our way. When we compare them with the eternal riches of the future life, we shall see them as they really are, stepping stones to help us across the river.

We may not have run as fast as we should up to now. But we are still in the race. Like St. Paul. let us forget the past, and press on vigorously towards the prize that awaits us. It is still ours for the taking.



Jn 8:1-11

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area,

and all the people started coming to him,

and he sat down and taught them.

Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman

who had been caught in adultery

and made her stand in the middle.

They said to him,

Teacher, this woman was caught

in the very act of committing adultery.

Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.

So what do you say?”

They said this to test him,

so that they could have some charge to bring against him.

Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger.

But when they continued asking him,

he straightened up and said to them,

Let the one among you who is without sin

be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.

And in response, they went away one by one,

beginning with the elders.

So he was left alone with the woman before him.

Then Jesus straightened up and said to her,

Woman, where are they?

Has no one condemned you?”

She replied, “No one, sir.”

Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.

Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”



CCC 582 Going even further, Jesus perfects the dietary law, so important in Jewish daily life, by revealing its pedagogical meaning through a divine interpretation: “Whatever goes into a man from outside cannot defile him. .. (Thus he declared all foods clean.)… What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts…”1 In presenting with divine authority the definitive interpretation of the Law, Jesus found himself confronted by certain teachers of the Law who did not accept his interpretation of the Law, guaranteed though it was by the divine signs that accompanied it.2 This was the case especially with the Sabbath laws, for he recalls, often with rabbinical arguments, that the Sabbath rest is not violated by serving God and neighbor,3 which his own healings did.

1 Mk 7:18-21; cf. Gal 3:24.

2 Cf. Jn 5:36; 10:25, 37-38; 12:37.

3 Cf. Num 28 9; Mt 12:5; Mk 2:25-27; Lk 13:15-16; 14:3-4; Jn 7:22-24.



This incident of the merciful forgiveness of an adulteress by the Son of God has many lessons for all of us in this season of Lent. We are all sinners in greater or lesser degree. We all offend the good God in many ways. But, thank God, we are not dealing with the Scribes and Pharisees as our judges, but with a God of mercy, a God who knows and understands our weaknesses and frailties. No matter how many and how serious our sins may have been, no matter how low we may have fallen, the mercy and forgiveness of God is ever there for the asking.

But ask we must and repent we must, for not even the omnipotent and all-merciful God can take away from us the sin we want to keep. Who could be so foolish as not to accept the divine offer of mercy? Who could ever let his personal pride and selfishness put his own eternal happiness in jeopardy? There are probably people in hell, but if there are, it is not because of their sins that they are there. It is rather because they were too proud and too selfish to repent of them and ask God for his forgiveness.

A second lesson for all of us in today’s story is that we should try to imitate our divine Lord’s mercy by being more merciful and more compassionate towards sinners. Too many of us are inclined to judge too harshly and heartlessly the neighbor whose sins happen to become public, whilst we minimize our own failings because they are secret. Remember our Lord’s words to the Pharisees: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to cast a stone at her.” Spreading scandal may be, and often is, a more grievous sin than the fall of a neighbor which we tell about with gusto whilst pretending to be seriously disgusted with his moral failing. Whilst we must hate sin in ourselves and others we must learn from our Lord to love the sinner even while disapproving of the sin. This love will be proved in part by our silence regarding his sin.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission of Franciscan Press.



The Denial of Sin

It is precisely the existence of sin that modern man is unable to take seriously. Because of this rejection of the concept of sin, no one is directly touched today by the Gospel claim that the evidence of Jesus’ divine nature is based on his power to forgive sin. Most people do not explicitly deny the existence of God, but they do not believe that he is of any importance in the realm of human life. Hardly anyone seriously thinks nowadays that men’s wrong actions may concern God so much that he regards them as sinful and offensive to himself, with the result that such sin must be forgiven by him alone. Even theologians have discussed the possibility of replacing the practice of confessing sin by conversations with psychologists, sociologists, and lawyers. Sin does not really exist. There are only problems, and these can be settled with the help of experts. Sin has disappeared and with it forgiveness, and behind that disappearance there is also the disappearance of a God who is turned toward man. In this situation, Christians can only turn to the Gospel, which can give us courage to grasp the truth. Only the truth can make us free. But the truth is that there is guilt and that we ourselves are guilty. It is Christ’s new truth that there is also forgiveness by the one who has the power to forgive. The Gospel calls on us to accept this truth. There is a God. Sin exists and there is also forgiveness. We need that forgiveness if we are not to seek refuge in the lie of excuses and thus destroy ourselves… Where there is forgiveness, there is also healing.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI



A Prayer for the Forgiveness of Sins

By St. Gemma Galgani

My Jesus, I place all my sins before you.

In my estimation They do not deserve pardon,

But I ask you

To close your eyes

To my want of merit

And open them

To your infinite merit.

Since you willed To die for my sins,

Grant me forgiveness

For all of them.

Thus, I may no longer feel

The burden of my sins,

A burden that oppresses me

Beyond measure.

Assist me, dear Jesus,

For I desire to become good

No matter what the cost.

Take away, destroy,

And utterly root out

Whatever you find in me

That is contrary To your holy will.

At the same time, dear Jesus, illumine me

So that I may walk in your holy light.

About Benedicamus Domino

Let Us Bless The Lord - A weekly study of the Roman Catholic Church's Sunday Sacred Liturgy. I hope that families and friends will benefit from this as a prayerful way to prepare and actively participate in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
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