Fifth Sunday of Lent
Isaiah 43:16-21; Philippians 3:8-14 and John 8:1-11
The theme of the day is deliverance. The prophet Isaiah remembers Israel’s great moment of victory as God’s chosen ones were delivered through the Red Sea, ultimately into the promised land. The apostle Paul anticipates liberation in Christ through resurrection after suffering the persecutions of this world. And the Gospel of John recounts how a woman caught in adultery (I always wonder about her male partner in crime) is delivered from her fate by Jesus’ simple but courageous act of resistance.
Even though each text emerges from its own unique context and expresses the longing of the people of faith for emancipation—from slavery, from persecution, from oppression—they are timeless precisely because as a people of faith we continue to yearn for release from contemporary forms of the same. We continue to traffic human beings, we continue to participate in persecution especially across lines of difference, we continue to judge, sometimes relentlessly, our neighbors for their moral failings. During this season of Lent, as we journey with Jesus liturgically from the region of the Galilee to Jerusalem and ultimately to Golgotha, may we be ever mindful of the way that Jesus’ path demonstrates deliverance not through means of coercion and force, but through the more difficult means of peaceful and nonviolent resistance to the ways of the world.
May our reception of the Eucharist continue to grow in us the ability to live collectively as he lived, such that, like him, we will increasingly refuse to participate in ways that harm those with whom we share the earth and our lives which we receive, after all, as a precious, precious gift.
Associate Professor of Systematic Theology
Director of Civic Engagement
Senior Editor ARTS: The Arts in Religious and Theological Studies