Knowing God’s forgiveness is the first step to deeper relationship. But as Paul says, we are in pursuit of being made more perfect in Christ, which means that there are more steps to follow.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
As we draw ever closer to Easter, to the renewal of our baptismal vows, we are reminded that knowing God’s forgiveness is the first step to deeper relationship. The FIRST step—not the only one. As Paul says, we are in pursuit of being made more perfect in Christ, which means that there are more steps to follow once we’ve gotten the first one down.
In the first reading, God speaks through the Prophet Isaiah about sending water where there was none before—in dried up places or areas where water normally wouldn’t be. For us, that water is the water of baptism. God brings hope, growth, cleanliness to all areas of our lives—particularly the ones that we thought were dead or at the very least, dried up. Paul talks to us of having been “possessed by Christ”; that Jesus has entered his heart to direct him, but it’s not all up to Jesus. Through our baptism, Jesus entered our hearts, too, and it’s up to us to accept direction from him and to take the next steps to living that direction.
In the Gospel, a woman is brought to Jesus who was caught doing something very bad. She was being unfaithful to her husband. This is often an image that God uses for the people of Israel being unfaithful to God. The men who brought her in front of him claimed to have the right to kill her for what she did. They ask Jesus because they want to trick him into denying what the Law of God says. His response is simple—whoever among them has never sinned has the right to carry out the punishment. None of them can do it, because all of them have sinned. They have all been unfaithful to God in one way or another, and the only one fit to punish is the one who has never sinned—Jesus.
But, the story doesn’t end there—Jesus asks the woman who has condemned her. No one has. He tells her that he doesn’t either, that she is free to go, and that she should, “not sin any more.” She has more steps to take. She has to choose every day to accept the forgiveness that she has been given, and to choose every day to make avoid sin and do good to become more like Jesus. We are all called to the very same thing in our baptism. We will renew our commitment to this at Easter.
You can read this Sunday’s readings here:
Break Open the Word with Your Family
What do you think Jesus wrote in the sand when the men were questioning him?
People were always trying to test Jesus to trip him up and get him to say or do the wrong thing. They were never able because he was always speaking the truth, and the truth cannot be tripped up. What truths that Jesus spoke in today’s Gospel stood out for you the most? (For example: That everyone sins, that we aren’t allowed to judge, that killing is not the answer, that when we are forgiven we are expected to avoid sin.)
The barbaric punishment of stoning was usually (and still is in some parts of the world) carried out by throwing rocks at someone until they died. It’s a gruesome and painful way to die as well as public and prolonged. What are some ways that people do this to one another—not with stones, but with words, resentments, etc.? Are there any ways that you practice this punishment?
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”