by Erik Ritland
“The story of the woman caught in adultery is a microcosm of Lent: God forgives our sins, yet we are called to then leave them behind and live for His Kingdom.”
Fully Alive’s Lenten Scriptural Commentary helps Christians get more out of Lent by taking God’s word seriously.
Mostly avoiding personal stories and anecdotes, our commentary dives deeply into the scripture readings for each day and applies them to the broader context of Lent. We use the daily Mass readings from the Catholic lectionary.
If possible, read each passage slowly, taking in each word. If you find that you’ve hurried through a reading, read it over a few more times. Let the words reverberate in your heart. After you’ve let it sink in, read our Lenten Scriptural Commentary.
The Fifth Sunday of Lent
Isaiah prophecies the coming new Kingdom, St. Paul speaks of the perpetual conversion of the Christian, and Jesus sets straight those who want to stone the woman caught in adultery.
Readings: Is 43:16-21/Phil 3:8-14/Jn 8:1-11
Click here to read the complete text from the USCCB website
Remember not the events of the past,
the things of long ago consider not;
see, I am doing something new!
Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
In the desert I make a way,
in the wasteland, rivers.
(cf. Is 43: 16-21)
For the Christian – and the world if Christians are correct – the advent of Jesus Christ, His Incarnation, is the ultimate moment in world history. Unlike Eastern and mystical religions, which see time as cyclical, Christians see time as progressive, as having progressed toward God become a human being to bring our humanity back to the God-filled-ness that it was meant to have.
The life and work of Jesus Christ is something new. It springs forth and inaugurates God’s Kingdom on earth. We are called to perpetuate that Kingdom, to be Jesus’ hands and feet, to help form the world into His vision of it as laid out in the Gospels.
And in response, they went away one by one,
beginning with the elders.
So he was left alone with the woman before him.
Then Jesus straightened up and said to her,
“Woman, where are they?
Has no one condemned you?”
She replied, “No one, sir.”
Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.
Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”
(cf. Jn 8: 1-11)
"Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
Jesus has a way with words, doesn’t He?
He also has a biting way to cut down people who are doing wrong.
Although this section of the Gospel of John isn’t in the earliest manuscripts, that they are words and deeds of Jesus is clear from how well it fits His personality as laid out in the rest of the Gospels.
Jesus’ dual purpose here is often lost, of course: we emphasize “let he who is without sin cast the first stone” but conveniently forget “go and sin no more.”
This story is a microcosm of Lent: God forgives our sins, yet we are called to then leave them behind and live for His Kingdom.
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician. The founder of Fully Alive Christian Media, he also created The Minnesota Sport Ramble and is a writer and copy editor for Music in Minnesota. He was Lead Staff Writer for Minnesota culture blogs Curious North and Hometown Hustle. Reach him via email.
Erik Ritland received his MA in Theology in 2017. He's the founder and content manager of Fully Alive Christian Media and Rambling On, copy editor and writer for Music in Minnesota, and an acclaimed songwriter.