5th Sunday of Lent (C)

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Papal Homilies

Pope Francis

March 13, 2013 – Present

APRIL 7, 2019 | Angelus

Two Contrasting Attitudes

Let fall from our hands the stones of denigration, of condemnation, of gossip

On this Fifth Sunday of Lent, the liturgy presents us the episode of the adulterous woman (cf. Jn 8:1-11). In it, there are two contrasting attitudes: that of the scribes and the Pharisees on the one hand, and that of Jesus on the other. The former want to condemn the woman because they feel they are the guardians of the Law and of its faithful implementation. Jesus, on the other hand, wants to save her because he personifies God’s mercy which redeems by forgiving and renews by reconciling.

Let us thus look at the event. While Jesus is teaching in the Temple, the scribes and the Pharisees bring him a woman who has been caught in adultery. They place her in the middle and ask Jesus if they should stone her as the Law of Moses prescribes. The Evangelist explains that they asked the question in order “to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him” (v. 6). One might think that this was their purpose: behold the iniquity of these people — a ‘no’ to the stoning would have been a pretext to accuse Jesus of disobeying the Law; a ‘yes’ instead, to report him to the Roman Authority which had reserved such sentences to itself and did not permit lynching by the people. And Jesus must respond.

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SOURCE: The Holy See Archive at the Vatican Website © Libreria Editrice Vaticana

RELATED: Pope Francis on the Parable of the Merciful Father (Excerpt from The Church of Mercy by Pope Francis)

homilies

March 13, 2016 | Angelus

Misery and Mercy

Jesus wants us to be free to convert from evil to good

Jesus looked up and said: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” (v. 7). This response confounded the accusers, disarming all of them in the true sense of the word: they all lay down their “weapons”, that is, the stones ready to be thrown, both the visible ones against the woman and those concealed against Jesus. While the Lord continued to write on the ground, to draw, I don’t know…. The accusers went away, one after the other, heads down, beginning with the eldest, most aware of not being without sin. How much good it does us to be aware that we too are sinners! When we speak ill of others — something we know well — how much good it will do us to have the courage to drop down the stones we have to throw at others, and to think a little about our own sins!

Only the woman and Jesus remained: misery and mercy. How often does this happen to us when we stop before the confessional, with shame, to show our misery and ask for forgiveness! “Woman, where are they?” (v. 10), Jesus said to her. This question is enough, and his merciful gaze, full of love, in order to let that person feel — perhaps for the first time — that she has dignity, that she is not her sin, she has personal dignity; that she can change her life, she can emerge from her slavery and walk on a new path.

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SOURCE: The Holy See Archive at the Vatican Website © Libreria Editrice Vaticana

homilies

March 17, 2013 | Angelus

The Adulterous Woman

We do not hear words of scorn, we do not hear words of condemnation

On this Fifth Sunday of Lent, the Gospel presents to us the episode of the adulterous woman (cf. Jn 8:1-11), whom Jesus saves from being condemned to death. Jesus’ attitude is striking: we do not hear words of scorn, we do not hear words of condemnation, but only words of love, of mercy, which are an invitation to conversion. “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again” (v. 11). Ah! Brothers and Sisters, God’s face is the face of a merciful father who is always patient. Have you thought about God’s patience, the patience he has with each one of us? That is his mercy. He always has patience, patience with us, he understands us, he waits for us, he does not tire of forgiving us if we are able to return to him with a contrite heart. “Great is God’s mercy”, says the Psalm.

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SOURCE: The Holy See Archive at the Vatican Website © Libreria Editrice Vaticana

homilies

5th Sunday of Lent (C)

Pope Benedict XVI

April 19, 2005 – February 28, 2013

MARCH 21, 2010 | Angelus

The Disarming Power of truth that pulls Down the Wall of Hypocrisy

Jesus wants to condemn the sin but save the sinner

We have reached the Fifth Sunday of Lent in which the Liturgy this year presents to us the Gospel episode of Jesus who saves an adulterous woman condemned to death (Jn 8: 1-11). While he is teaching at the Temple the Scribes and Pharisees bring Jesus a woman caught in the act of adultery for which Mosaic law prescribed stoning. Those men ask Jesus to judge the sinful woman in order “to test him” and impel him to take a false step. The scene is full with drama: the life of that person and also his own life depend on Jesus. Indeed, the hypocritical accusers pretend to entrust the judgement to him whereas it is actually he himself whom they wish to accuse and judge. Jesus, on the other hand, is “full of grace and truth” (Jn 1: 14): he can read every human heart, he wants to condemn the sin but save the sinner, and unmask hypocrisy. St John the Evangelist highlights one detail: while his accusers are insistently interrogating him, Jesus bends down and starts writing with his finger on the ground. St Augustine notes that this gesture portrays Christ as the divine legislator: in fact, God wrote the law with his finger on tablets of stone (cf. Commentary on John’s Gospel, 33,5). Thus Jesus is the Legislator, he is Justice in person. And what is his sentence? “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her”. These words are full of the disarming power of truth that pulls down the wall of hypocrisy and opens consciences to a greater justice, that of love, in which consists the fulfilment of every precept (cf. Rom 13: 8-10). This is the justice that also saved Saul of Tarsus, transforming him into St Paul (cf. Phil 3: 8-14).

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SOURCE: The Holy See Archive at the Vatican Website © Libreria Editrice Vaticana

MARCH 25, 2007 | Angelus

Solemnity of the Annunciation

Conversion overcomes the root of evil, which is sin, even if it cannot always avoid its consequences.

The 25th of March is the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin. This year it coincides with a Sunday in Lent and will therefore be celebrated tomorrow. I would now like, however, to reflect on this amazing mystery of faith which we contemplate every day in the recitation of the Angelus.

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SOURCE: The Holy See Archive at the Vatican Website © Libreria Editrice Vaticana
homilies

5th Sunday of Lent (C)

Pope Saint John Paul II

October 16, 1978 – April 2, 2005

AUGUST 15, 1988 | APOSTOLIC LETTER

The Dignity and Vocation of Women

The dignity and the vocation of women – as well as those of men – find their eternal source in the heart of God

14. Jesus enters into the concrete and historical situation of women, a situation which is weighed down by the inheritance of sin. One of the ways in which this inheritance is expressed is habitual discrimination against women in favour of men. This inheritance is rooted within women too. From this point of view the episode of the woman “caught in adultery” (cf. Jn 8:3-11) is particularly eloquent. In the end Jesus says to her: “Do not sin again”, but first he evokes an awareness of sin in the men who accuse her in order to stone her, thereby revealing his profound capacity to see human consciences and actions in their true light. Jesus seems to say to the accusers: Is not this woman, for all her sin, above all a confirmation of your own transgressions, of your “male” injustice, your misdeeds?

This truth is valid for the whole human race. The episode recorded in the Gospel of John is repeated in countless similar situations in every period of history. A woman is left alone, exposed to public opinion with “her sin”, while behind “her” sin there lurks a man – a sinner, guilty “of the other’s sin”, indeed equally responsible for it. And yet his sin escapes notice, it is passed over in silence: he does not appear to be responsible for “the others’s sin”! Sometimes, forgetting his own sin, he even makes himself the accuser, as in the case described. How often, in a similar way, the woman pays for her own sin (maybe it is she, in some cases, who is guilty of the “others’s sin” – the sin of the man), but she alone pays and she pays all alone! How often is she abandoned with her pregnancy, when the man, the child’s father, is unwilling to accept responsibility for it? And besides the many “unwed mothers” in our society, we also must consider all those who, as a result of various pressures, even on the part of the guilty man, very often “get rid of” the child before it is born. “They get rid of it”: but at what price? Public opinion today tries in various ways to “abolish” the evil of this sin. Normally a woman’s conscience does not let her forget that she has taken the life of her own child, for she cannot destroy that readiness to accept life which marks her “ethos” from the “beginning”.

The attitude of Jesus in the episode described in John 8:3-11 is significant. This is one of the few instances in which his power – the power of truth – is so clearly manifested with regard to human consciences. Jesus is calm, collected and thoughtful. As in the conversation with the Pharisees (cf. Mt 19:3-9), is Jesus not aware of being in contact with the mystery of the “beginning”, when man was created male and female, and the woman was entrusted to the man with her feminine distinctiveness, and with her potential for motherhood? The man was also entrusted by the Creator to the woman – they were entrusted to each other as persons made in the image and likeness of God himself. This entrusting is the test of love, spousal love. In order to become “a sincere gift” to one another, each of them has to feel responsible for the gift. This test is meant for both of them – man and woman – from the “beginning”. After original sin, contrary forces are at work in man and woman as a result of the threefold concupiscence, the “stimulus of sin”. They act from deep within the human being. Thus Jesus will say in the Sermon on the Mount: “Every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt 5:28). These words, addressed directly to man, show the fundamental truth of his responsibility vis-a-vis woman: her dignity, her motherhood, her vocation. But indirectly these words concern the woman. Christ did everything possible to ensure that – in the context of the customs and social relationships of that time – women would find in his teaching and actions their own subjectivity and dignity. On the basis of the eternal “unity of the two”, this dignity directly depends on woman herself, as a subject responsible for herself, and at the same time it is “given as a task” to man. Christ logically appeals to man’s responsibility. In the present meditation on women’s dignity and vocation, it is necessary that we refer to the context which we find in the Gospel. The dignity and the vocation of women – as well as those of men – find their eternal source in the heart of God. And in the temporal conditions of human existence, they are closely connected with the “unity of the two”. Consequently each man must look within himself to see whether she who was entrusted to him as a sister in humanity, as a spouse, has not become in his heart an object of adultery; to see whether she who, in different ways, is the cosubject of his existence in the world, has not become for him an “object”: an object of pleasure, of exploitation.

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SOURCE: The Holy See Archive at the Vatican Website © Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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