Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we enter into the fifth week in the season of Lent, we are all reminded that sin is truly something that is very dangerous and sinister, and we are certainly familiar with the many forms of sin, born out of refusal to obey God and the failure to follow God’s will. And there are the seven deadly sins, referring to the seven forms of sin we frequently encounter in life, from pride, to sloth and greed, to wrath and envy, and to lust and gluttony.
In today’s readings from the Scripture we are presented with two stories, one from the Book of the prophet Daniel and one from the Gospel written by St. John. In both stories, there are many parallels, in both of which a woman was accused of improper conduct under two different circumstances. In the Book of the prophet Daniel, we listened to the story of Susanna, an innocent and pious woman who was accused by two elders who tried to hide their own wicked sins, while in the Gospel passage, we heard of a woman who committed adultery and was condemned to death by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.
In the case presented in the Book of the prophet Daniel, we heard how two respected elders of the people fell into sin, because of the lust that affected their judgment of action, which made them to sin in their hearts and minds. That such respected and senior member of the community could have fallen into such wickedness is a reminder for us all that we should not take our chances with sin and the temptations to sin.
The lust and also greed in wanting to have the beautiful Susanna made them to desire and to be selfish, and in the end, as Susanna refused to be party to their immoral action, they were overcome by their sins, and instead of repenting and turning away from their sinfulness, they doubled down instead on sin, and ended up making false witnesses and accusations before the people against an innocent person.
That is just how dangerous sin is, and how we should not allow it to have power and control over us. The two elders were swayed by the temptation of worldly concerns, for the security of their positions, for their own selfish gains and advantage, even if that means causing hurt and sufferings for others, as what they almost managed to do with Susanna, causing the loss of life of an innocent, had God not intervened through Daniel.
Then in the Gospel passage today, we heard how the Lord was confronted with the difficult situation when His opponents brought to Him a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery, and asked Him what should be done towards her. The Lord knew that the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law were like those who accused Susanna in the past, as those people resented the authority and popularity that He enjoyed among the people, and their pride, greed and desires overcame them with jealousy and anger.
That was why they hoped to trap the Lord with a seemingly impossible situation, that if the Lord either sided with the adulterous woman or if He punished her, either way it would cause Him to lose credibility and following among the people, and they could even use the occasion as evidence to arrest Him and to condemn Him. Again therefore, we see how sin is so dangerous, that it can cause us to do things that are even contrary to God’s good works and will.
But we also see how the Lord acted in that instance, in calling the ones who had no sin to cast the first stone at the adulterous woman. Instantly, the crowd began to leave one by one, beginning with the oldest, for those who lived the longest were likely to have more sins with them, and ending with the youngest among them. None of them threw a single stone at her, because ultimately, all of them were sinners, just like the adulterous woman.
Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, there are three important things that the Lord wants us all to realise through today’s Scripture passages. First of all, it is the fact that each and every one of us are sinners, and it does not matter how many sins we have committed, but sin has us in its snare, and it is a great threat towards us. And then, secondly, as mentioned, sin is something that is very dangerous, as if we allow ourselves to be tempted and sin, we will likely fall deeper and deeper into sin.
And last of all, we are reminded that it does not matter how powerful sin and its temptations may be, but God’s mercy and forgiveness are even more powerful. Even God forgave a woman who committed adultery, but that forgiveness came with a stern provision, that she should repent and sin no more. This is a call for each and every one of us to seek God’s mercy and forgiveness for our own sins, and for us to commit ourselves to repentance and sin no more as well.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we continue to progress through the season of Lent, let us all make the commitment from now on, to live our lives with a renewed purpose, and turn ourselves away from all the sins we have committed thus far, with a firm desire to sin no more, and not indulge even a moment further on those sins. Remember how dangerous sins have been to those whom we have just discussed earlier. Do we want the same fate to happen to us, to perish as the two elders and to sin like the enemies of the Lord?
Instead, we should follow the examples of the Lord, Who forgave even His enemies, and loving everyone, regardless of their status or past experiences or any societal prejudices. Let us all be more loving and forgiving in our own lives, and let us from now on, be true disciples of the Lord in everything we do in life. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.