With the election this week of Pope Francis, many people have been excited by his choice of name, his evident humility in bowing and asking for the blessing of the crowd, his payment of his hotel bill, catching the bus rather than being chauffeured and many more; but others have been disturbed by this simplicity and his refusal to engage in the pomp and ceremony that some expect of the papacy. It has also tapped into the fears of some that this papacy will not be about restoring traditions that a few people still long for, and instead be about new beginnings. Well, the readings today all call us to let go of the past and embrace the new things that God is doing in our midst – like the rivers in the desert (Isaiah 43) and running eagerly forward to embrace the future, counting everything else (including the past) as so much refuse in contrast to the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord.
Our Gospel is the intriguing story of the woman caught in adultery, brought into the temple and presented before the crowd of men, who stand ready to stone her to death. Instead, Jesus leads them into an examination of their own hearts, as he catches them out in hypocrisy. One by one, beginning with the elders, the accusers leave the temple, leaving only the woman and Jesus. As St Augustine puts it in his commentary, “Relicti sunt duo, misera et misericordia” – only two were left, the miserable one and mercy itself.
Recorded at St Paul’s, 6pm Vigil (7’46”)
Sunday 5, Season of Lent, Year C. John 7:59 – 8:11; Phil 3:8-14; Isaiah 43:16-21