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Lent – Sunday 5

The evening TV news regularly show people who have been caught in the act! They are identified according to their misdeeds – kidnappers, murderers, arsonists, terrorists and drug pushers. They were caught in the act of executing their crimes. Now they have fallen into the hands of the law. But do you notice that none of these captives delight in standing before tv cameras? In fact, they avoid direct gaze into it. They hang their heads in shame, drop their shoulders in embarrassment. They seem to melt into meekness and helplessness before the media and the entire watching nation.

This must have been the agonizing experience of the woman brought to Jesus by the Jews. She too, was caught in the act!. She is now publicly accused of adultery. She was totally helpless amidst the shouting, demanding, rioting crowd.

No defense, for she was guilty as charged. No escape, for she was abandoned by her lover. No appeal, because she has already been condemned to die according to the law.

Jesus enters the life of this woman and reveals himself as the Savior. Instead of attacking the woman, Jesus attacks the hypocrisy of the bloodthirsty crowd. They have forgotten that they too, were sinners – who luckily were not caught! In Jesus, we see a direct contrast with the others around him. Instead of death, he offers new life. Instead of hatred, he bestows forgiveness. Instead of condemnation, he offers hope and strength.

The woman, caught in the act by the mob, is finally caught in the web of God’s love in Jesus Christ.

This Lent, we revisit the experience of this woman. We too are caught in the act of our daily sins. Our conscience convicts us in private. People around us accuse us. How can we be saved? David in the Old Testament declares in hope that he would rather fall into the hands of God than into the hands of men.

In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, like the woman, we allow ourselves to fall into the hands of God, to be caught in love. Some of us are afraid of confession not quite sure whether we truly need it. Others have abandoned the sacrament fearing anger, judgment and condemnation.

But God awaits us in confession as Jesus waited for this woman after her sinful act. In this sacrament, Jesus shows how much the Father loves us. God is all mercy, forgiveness, encouragement and hope for us today. In our hearts we know that though change is difficult and slow, the most beautiful words that can trigger transformation are the words “I forgive you.”

The woman heard these words and entered into new life. Let us follow her example and open our hearts to the Jesus’ loving invitation in Confession.