25 Mar - Fifth Sunday of Lent

The Lord Who Has Wiped Out Our Past Sinfulness

The utter completeness of Christ’s forgiveness is almost incredible. When he says to us, “Neither do I condemn you”, the past is dead, snuffed out like wick, forgotten. Laughter and song fill our hearts. It seems like a dream.

- the Sunday Missal
____________________

Forgiven and Forgotten

How I wish for a wonderful place
Called the Land of Beginning Again,
Where all our mistakes,
Our sins and our aches,
Could be locked in a case
And dumped in a lake
Never to surface again.

- God takes our sins and dumps them into the deepest lake. The problem: God puts a sign on the lake: “No fishing!”

- When God forgives, God suffers from total amnesia!

- God presses the “erase” button, and the sheet comes out blank!

- taken from “150 More Stories for Preachers and Teachers” by Jack McArdle
____________________

Isaiah 43:16-21

Thus says the Lord,
who made a way through the sea,
a path in the great waters;
who puts chariots and horse in the field
and a powerful army,
which lay there never to rise again,
snuffed out, put out like a wick:

No need to recall the past,
no need to think about what was done before.
See, I am doing a new deed,
even now it comes to light; can you not see it?
Yes, I am making a road in the wilderness,
paths in the wilds.

The wild beasts will honour me,
jackals and ostriches,
because I am putting water in the wilderness
(rivers in the wild)
to give my chosen people drink.
The people I have formed for myself
will sing my praises.

____________________

Philippians 3:8-14

I believe nothing can happen that will outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For him I have accepted the loss of everything, and I look on everything as so much rubbish if only I can have Christ and be given a place in him. I am no longer trying for perfection by my own efforts, the perfection that comes from the Law, but I want only the perfection that comes through faith in Christ, and is from God and based on faith. All I want is to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and to share his sufferings by reproducing the pattern of his death. That is the way I can hope to take my place in the resurrection of the dead. Not that I have become perfect yet: I have not yet won, but I am still running, trying to capture the prize for which Christ Jesus captured me. I can assure you my brothers, I am far from thinking that I have already won. All I can say is that I forget the past and I strain ahead for what is still to come; I am racing for the finish, for the prize to which God calls us upwards to receive in Christ Jesus.
____________________

John 8:1-11

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At daybreak he appeared in the Temple again; and as all the people came to him, he sat down and began to teach them.

The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman along who had been caught committing adultery; and making her stand there in full view of everybody, they said to Jesus, “Master, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery, and Moses has ordered us in the Law to condemn women like this to death by stoning. What have you to say?” They asked him this as a test, looking for something to use against him. But Jesus bent down and started writing on the ground with his finger. As they persisted with their question, he looked up and said, “If there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then he bent down and wrote on the ground again. When they heard this they went away one by one, beginning with the eldest, until Jesus was left alone with the woman, who remained standing there. He looked up and said, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she replied. “Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go away, and don’t sin any more.”
____________________

Someone asked me why did I choose the name “John Tan” when I shared the story of my addiction to pornography. It could be because today’s gospel reading comes from the apostle John.

Since I shared my story publicly for the first time two weeks ago, I’ve come to realise that the problem of pornography is more widespread than I imagined. How many guys have I known without knowing of their addiction? How many women whose marriages have fallen apart because of their husbands’ addiction to pornography?

But the reflection today is not about me. It’s about the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. My story revolves around him because, as St. Paul writes in the second reading, “I am no longer trying for perfection by my own efforts”. Indeed it was only when I realised and accepted that I could not overcome my addiction on my own strength and willpower did I open the door to my Lord Jesus to begin his healing work in me. And even today, I dare not say that I have already won, because I still get tempted, and the 10,000 pornographic images that I’ve seen in my 13-year struggle still appear in my mind, although 10,000 is probably an underestimate.

When I reflect on today’s gospel reading, I imagine myself as the woman caught in adultery. I imagine myself as the man caught viewing pornography on his computer, while masturbating with penis in hand. I imagine being dragged in front of a crowd where Jesus sits teaching and made to stand there in full view of everyone. I imagine Jesus looking at me with compassion in his eyes, and then turning to the people looking judgementally at me and saying, “If there is one of you who has not viewed pornography, let him be the first to throw a stone at him.”

And I imagine everyone going away one by one, because they have all viewed pornography and may still be doing so. And finally, all that are left are Jesus and I, and my Lord Jesus says to me, “John, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” I shake my head slowly, and my Lord says to me, “Neither do I condemn you. Go away, and don’t sin any more.”

Laughter and song fills my heart. It seems like a dream. But because my Lord Jesus believed in me, he gave me the strength to overcome my addiction. And indeed no one has condemned me…

(Today’s OXYGEN by “John Tan”)
____________________

Prayer:
Lord Jesus Christ, please allow us to experience your unfailing love for us, that we who are trapped in shame in our addiction to pornography, may experience your healing. Help us to realise that we cannot overcome this problem on our own, and that we need your help found in the people around us who love us and would never cast a stone at us. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Those who love us and support us totally.

You Should Also Check Out This Post:

More Active Posts: