Jesus ushers in the new creation. He comes to make all things new. Hence, he wants us to be just and holy.
The prodigal son goes back home. He stands for those who are not holy: robbers, evildoers, adulterers, tax collectors.
But as it turns out, the older son should also repent. That is to say, those who are strict in keeping the law of Moses.
Yes, those who think they are better than others have to repent. To bolster their ego, they belittle tax collectors, even before God. But most of all, they need to repent since they do not get it. They do not know that the whole law has to do with justice, and love.
The scribes and the Pharisees mistake God for a lawmaker who lacks all mercy. They turn the good Father into an avenging master who sets traps and punishes for fun.
And those who see God as a bully end up lording it over others and judging them. No wonder that they breathe deadly threats against the woman caught in adultery. But what about her man? Do they let him go just so long as they have the woman? She alone is brought to Jesus.
The new thing: grace that makes us holy is above the law.
Those who think they are holy put her in the middle. Easier target of scorn and stoning? Anyway, they pose the question: “In the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So, what do you say?”
But Jesus bends down and writes on the ground with his finger. Is he showing no interest? Is he thinking? What will he say to those who like to hunt?
If he stays merciful with her, as he does with all sinners, they can accuse him of not respecting the law. But if he condemns her, he will look harsh. And this will unmask his mercy, before the public, as fake, just for show.
But such a trap boils down to this: either Moses or Jesus. And better that it all comes to a head in this way. The new thing, toward which we should strive, will spring up then.
The new, yes: new garment, new wine, new pact, new teaching, new authority, new commandment, new life. New worship in the Spirit and not in the letter, new body, new humanity, new heaven, new earth.
And, yes, the Good News, with which we should be busy (see Acts 17, 21). It teaches us that grace, love, is above all laws, and rules (SV.EN X:478). That mercy triumphs over judgment (Jas 2, 13; see Mt 5,20; 23, 23). And Jesus who is the Good News in person does not want men and leaders to be bullies. In him, there is no male or female (Gal 3, 28), and leaders serve. He does not wish the sinner to die but to turn back and live.
Of course, the gospels are more for Christians than for the scribes and Pharisees. Hence, we all should turn back, starting with the elders. And sin no more, nor tire in doing holy works.
Lord Jesus, you make us your new creation. Hence, you gave us baptism and you feed us with your word and with your flesh and blood. Guide our feet in the new way of grace you opened for us. Make us holy, as our Father is holy.
3 April 2022
Fifth Sunday of Lent (C)
Is 43, 16-21; Phil 3, 8-14; Jn 8, 1-11