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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, March 17, 2013

By Jeff Hedglen
Catholic News Service

March 17, Fifth Sunday Of Lent

Cycle C. Readings:

1) Isaiah 43:16-21

Psalm 126:1-6

2) Philippians 3:8-14

Gospel: John 8:1-11

There are things in my past -- some going back 30 years -- that I regret. One is the way a friendship ended. Another was a racist remark I made at a table with a black man sitting across from me. I also regret some of my attitudes and actions in a dating relationship when I was in my 20s. There are plenty of similar past incidents that periodically come to mind and really throw me for a loop. I wish they could just stay in my past.

Try as I might to forgive and move on, when such an event comes back to mind I can dwell on it for hours and lament my failings or for not doing more to make up for my wrong. Even though I have sought reconciliation and restitution for most of my past wrongdoing, these things can haunt me for days.

This week's readings struck me as the proverbial 2-by-4 to the head with regard to dwelling on the past. In Philippians, Paul says, "Forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God's upward calling, in Christ Jesus."

Too often, I focus on what lies behind and not the real goal of life, which is life with Jesus here on earth and in heaven. This reminder from Paul was a welcome wake-up call.

The issues on which I was dwelling did not necessarily involve sin but were more like regretful words and actions. Still, sinful things that I have done, regretted and gone to confession for years ago also haunt me.

In today's Gospel, Jesus speaks to these situations also. To all of us, as to the woman caught in the act of committing adultery, he asks, "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."

Not only does Jesus not condemn us, he points us forward, away from our sin and regrettable actions. He says, "Go." This means we must move on from where we are today to a new place, free from the condemnation of others, ourselves and God.


Are there things from your past that still haunt you? Why do you think this happens? What can help you truly take to heart Paul's and Jesus' words from this week's readings?


"Go, and from now on do not sin any more." -- John 8:11


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