Do you not Perceive it?
(5th Sunday of Lent: Isaiah 43:16-21; Philippians 3:8-14; John 8:1-11)
The woman in today’s Gospel was guilty. The law doomed her to death. Whatever regrets she now had could do her no good.
The Jewish people, to whom Isaiah speaks in the first reading, were in exile because of their many sins. If only they had remembered how much they owed God for delivering their ancestors from slavery and bringing them through the Red Sea!
Paul recognized too late “the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” He could never undo the harm he had done in persecuting the Church.
Many Christians in 1846 had forgotten the story of their salvation. God’s Son, out of love for the world, had handed himself over to death. But now some invoked his name only when they swore at rotten potatoes and the coming scourge of hunger.
It took a Beautiful Lady to bring them back to a life of faith. Yes, her words were reproachful, but she did not come to condemn her people. An alternative to punishment was available.
Paul would have to suffer much for the sake of Christ. That was no punishment. He found fulfillment in “the sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death.”
Isaiah reassured his people that a sign greater than the crossing of the Red Sea lay in store for them, and sooner than they think. “Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”
Far more remarkable is the outcome of the case of the woman in the Gospel. It was not only unexpected, it was impossible! Jesus is saying, in effect, “I am doing something new, something not seen before, something revolutionary. Can you perceive this?”
La Salette helps us to see this great wonder, not only to apply it ourselves as we strive to lead reconciled lives, but also to adopt it as a methodology in engaging our modern world.
Isaiah, Paul, Mary, and especially Jesus invite us to take on a heart of conversion. Let us not put off the time when we might hear those gentle words, “Neither do I condemn you.”
Fr. René Butler, M.S.