March 17, 2013 – Fifth Sunday of Lent

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It’s true.  I’ve been caught.  After a long night, I find myself once again deceived by pleasures which make promises they cannot keep.  As humiliating as it is to be dragged out into the morning light, I am grateful that You have laid my guilt bare.  But what am I to do now, O Lord?  There seems to be no escape.  How am I going to survive this stoning of accusations from the Enemy that entraps me? Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

As I stand surrounded by a crowd with a loveless gaze, I see the Master stoop down to the ground.  He casts His eyes downward and takes the lowest place.  Instead of pointing a finger at me, He begins to write upon the ground, tracing His finger in the dust.  He meets me in the place where I was first condemned.  Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.  What are you writing upon the face of the earth, O Lord?  What have you got to say?  You write upon my fallen heart: a new law, your living word.  Descendants of Adam, we all share the sinful heart of man.  None of us can claim innocence when our very hearts have become like stones.  Let he who is sinless cast the first stone.  You bend down again and continue writing on the ground.  One by one, you cast down the mighty from their thrones and lift up the lowly.  I am the last one to hear your voice, but the first to know your mercy.  Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?  Neither do I condemn you.

Suddenly I discover that we are alone.  For the first time in my life, I know what it means to be seen as I truly am.  Your penetrating glance is like water in this desert wasteland of my sin.  Your purifying presence beckons me to accept the loss of all other loves so that I can gain the prize of your love, O Lord.  No need to remember past events, no need to think about what was done before.  O Daughter of Eve, the first to fall, the New Adam is calling me back to my original innocence, to the purity and potency of faith which trusts that with God all things are possible.  I believe that Jesus will help me to sin no more.  Look, I am doing something new.  Now it emerges; can you not see it?  Yes, I am making a road in the desert and rivers in wastelands.  And so I begin my pilgrimage into the ocean of His mercy.  Though an army of temptation chases behind me, and the raging waves of memories haunt me, Jesus makes a path in the sea.  He has remembered his promise of mercy.  Because He has forgiven me, I forget all that lies behind me, and strain forward to what lies ahead of me.  I am racing towards the finishing point to win the prize of God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.

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