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Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Lent

by Mary MacNeil FoleyCategory: Updates

Letting Go of the Past

sepia toned picture of chalice, open bible with curcifix on it and loaf of bread on place with two pieces broken off

In Isaiah we read, “Remember not the events of the past…see, I am doing something new!”

Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, says, “Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal…”

These first two readings lead us to the day the Pharisees wanted to trip up Jesus and discredit Him.  They were quoting the law of Moses. The Pharisees held fast to the letter of the laws of the past.  Jesus didn’t disrespect the laws but “He came to make all things new.”

Jesus was a realist and an incredible teacher.  He saw into the hearts of the Pharisees and the woman who sinned.  He knew the emotions of self-righteousness and fear were palpable at that moment in time but that present moment was also filled with waiting grace.

Jesus broke the tension of the moment by leaning down to write in the dirt. The teacher Jesus gave pause!

Did He write something or pray for guidance?  We don’t know but it must have been an unexpected move for those waiting for His answer.  Jesus calmly and intentionally turned the tables, so to speak, on the Pharisees.

                               Jesus got them to look at themselves and decide if they were sinless.

 Acknowledging their own sins, they had no choice but to leave defeated.  Jesus turned to the woman and though He knew she sinned He didn’t condone it but responded with forgiveness and love.  She was reassured and admonished to go forward.  Jesus looked beyond her past. He intentionally focused on her at that momentous moment in her life. She needed to let go of her past, focus on the present and move to her future.  She was filled with grace.  She may have lived a sinful lifestyle and perhaps thought “that’s who I am” but now she had a choice.  Her heart was transformed and Jesus gave her the freedom to face each new day with His grace and move ahead.

Our past often paralyzes us.  We can use it as an escape, as comfort, or even to fuel fear of our self-worth.

Jesus gives us a guideline. We are His apprentices of Love.  Like Him, we need to pause, accept the past and know that grace is available in each present moment.  While it is fine to understand the past and hope for the future, we must spend most of our time living where we are, in the present.  If we don’t pay attention to what God has allowed to be present in our lives, we miss the grace of God that comes with it.  We need to approach our days with anticipation of God’s possibilities and hope for the future. This fuels our faith to grow and change personally in such a way that it also changes the lives of those around us. Let us start each day with a Morning Offering of Gratitude and ask for assistance to walk with Jesus every moment of the day.


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