“Let the one among you who is without sin
Fifth Week of Lent: March 9 - 15, 2008
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Fifth Week of Lent
Saturday is the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, celebrated early this year so it would not conflict with Holy Week.
The first readings prepare for the gospels. We begin with the long, but well worth reading, story of Susanna, who trusted in God. The bronze serpent on a pole reminds us of Jesus's saving cross. Three young men refuse to commit idolatry and show us how God protects "the servants who trusted in him." God entered a covenant with Abraham. In the midst of his persecution, Jeremiah praises God, "For he has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked!"
Our gospels are again from the Fourth Gospel. Presented with a woman caught in adultery, Jesus replies, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Reminding us of the bronze serpent and his death, Jesus says, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM." To the children of Abraham and to us Jesus declares, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” “Whoever keeps my word will never see death. ... Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.” They heard what they thought was blasphemy and tried to stone him. Jesus simply told the truth, because, “the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” After the raising of Lazarus, the plans were set to destroy Jesus. The high priest says the prophetic words, “it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish.”
On Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord we make our way into Holy Week. We read the gospel about Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, Paul's invitation to us to imitate Jesus who emptied himself, and the whole Passion, this year from Matthew's Gospel.
Prayer This Week
If I experience myself somewhat "at war" with myself, then these are very important days to keep deliberately asking our Lord to help me. It is also a great time to begin to prepare to renew the baptismal promises at Easter. We can reject the unloving choices we've made, all that is unjust, dishonest, disrespectful and violent. We want to refuse to be mastered by an empty promises. Declaring our desire for freedom is a great preparation to receive this great gift. If we are celebrating the Scrutinies with the RCIA candidates and catechumens, this is a wonderful time to pray for them as well, for their protection from the evil one in the last days of their journey.
If we have developed the habit of naming a desire the first thing each morning, and carrying on a conversation with our Lord in the brief background moments of the day, we are already comfortable with letting the Word or the Season interact with the concrete events of the week. This way of finding intimacy with our Lord, through our daily interaction - even in a very busy life - is so appropriate for the Fifth Week of Lent. We can discover areas that are still resistant to God's grace. We can ask for help to practice new ways of being free, or new ways of loving. We can find ways to make financial sacrifices to give to the poor this week.
Each night this week, we can give thanks. The closer we get to celebrating Holy Week and the events that brought us our salvation, each of us can express our gratitude, realizing this was all for me.
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