5th Sunday of Lent, Year C
Note: Homilies & Angelus / Regina Caeli of Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI & Pope Francis I had been compiled for you after the Mass Readings below. Happy Reading!
Mass Readings from ETWN
See our extracts with pictures: 8-)
1st Reading: Isaiah 43:16-21 ,
Responsorial: Psalm 126:1-6,
2nd Reading: Philippians 3:8-14 &
Gospel: John 8:1-11.
Liturgical Colour: Violet.
Acknowledgment: We thank the Publisher for allowing us to publish the Mass Readings to be used as reference for Homilies & Angelus / Regina Caeli of Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI & Pope Francis I as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us around the World.
Homilies, Angelus / Regina Caeli
1. “I do not wish the sinner to die, says the Lord, but to turn to me and live” (Gospel acclamation; cf. Ezekiel 33:11).
The words of the Gospel acclamation proclaimed a few moments ago introduce the comforting message of God’s mercy, which was then illustrated by today’s passage from the Evangelist John. Several scribes and Pharisees, “that they might have some charge to bring against him” (John 8:6), bring to Jesus a woman caught in the act of adultery. They intend to show that his teaching on God’s merciful love contradicts the Law, which punished the sin of adultery with stoning.
Jesus however unmasked their cunning: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). While this authoritative reply reminds us that it is only the Lord who can judge, it reveals the true meaning of divine mercy, which leaves open the possibility for repentance and emphasizes the great respect for the dignity of the person, which not even sin can take away. “Go, and do not sin again” (John 8:11). The last words of this episode show that God does not want the sinner to die, but to repent of the evil he has committed and live.
2. “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:8). The Apostle Paul had a personal experience of saving righteousness. His meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus opened the way to a deep understanding of the paschal mystery. Paul clearly understood how deceptive it is to want to create for oneself a righteousness based only on observance of the Law. Christ alone justifies man, every man, through the sacrifice of the Cross.
Moved by grace, Paul went from being a ruthless persecutor of Christians to being a tireless preacher of the Gospel, because “Christ Jesus has made me his own” (cf. ibid). We too, especially during this Lenten season, are invited to let the Lord make us his own: by the attraction of his word of salvation, by the power of his grace, by the proclamation of his redemptive love.
4. Young people are humanity’s future. To show concern for their human and Christian maturation is a valuable investment for the good of the Church and of society. I am delighted with what you are already doing and I hope that, in conformity with the diocesan pastoral directives, your praiseworthy efforts in this area will be intensified. As in the early days of the Borgo Ragazzi Don Bosco, today too there are unfortunately many “troubled young people”, as they are called, without work and lacking sound guidance, involved in petty crime and given to laziness, with all the risks that a disoriented life implies. Do not abandon these troubled young people and children; offer them sincere friendship and open your hearts to them, so that they will experience the tenderness of divine love.
5. “Remember not the events of the past.... See, I am doing something new” (Isaiah 43:18-19). The prophet Isaiah invites us today to look closely at the new things God does every day for his faithful. “See, I am doing something new”. The Spirit is always at work and his fruits are the marvels he never ceases to accomplish for us.
“Remember not the events of the past”. Do not turn your gaze to the past — says the prophet — turn it rather to Christ “yesterday, today and forever”. In the mystery of his Death and Resurrection, he reversed humanity’s destiny once and for all. In the light of the paschal events, human life is not afraid of death because the Risen One opens the doors of true life to believers. In these last days of Lent between now and the Easter Triduum, let us prepare our hearts to receive the grace of the Redeemer who died and rose, and who strengthens the steps of our faith.
May Mary, who stood silently at the foot of the Cross and then encountered her risen Son, help us prepare worthily to celebrate the Easter feasts.
Pope Saint John Paul II (Homily, 29 March 1998)
See our extracts with pictures in Encouragements-212. 8-)
1. "The Lord has done great things for us" (cf. Psalm 125 : 3). These words, which we repeated as the refrain to the Responsorial Psalm, beautifully summarize the biblical themes presented today on the Fifth Sunday of Lent. Already in the first reading, taken from the so-called "Second Isaiah", the anonymous prophet of the Babylonian exile announces the salvation that God has prepared for his people. The departure from Babylon and the return to the homeland will be like a new and greater Exodus.
At that time God had freed the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt and overcome the obstacle of the sea; now he brings his people back to the promised land, marking out a safe path through the desert. "Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert" (Isaiah 43: 19).
"A new thing": we Christians know that, when the Old Testament speaks of "new realities", the ultimate reference is to the truly great "newness" in history: Christ, who came into the world to free mankind from the slavery of sin, evil and death.
2. "Woman ... has no one condemned you? ... neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again" (John 8: 10-11). Jesus is newness of life for those who open their hearts and, after acknowledging their sins, receive his saving mercy. In today's Gospel text, the Lord offers this gift of his love to the adulteress, who is forgiven and restored to her full human and spiritual dignity. He also offers it to her accusers, but their spirit remains closed and impenetrable.
Here is an invitation to meditate on the paradoxical refusal of his merciful love. It is as though the trial against Jesus were already beginning, a trial that we will relive in a few days during the events of his Passion: it will result in his unjust sentence to death on the cross. On the one hand, the redeeming love of Christ, freely offered to everyone; on the other, the closure of those who, moved by envy, seek a motive to kill him. Accused even of opposing the Law, Jesus is "put to the test": if he absolves the woman caught in flagrant adultery, it will be said that he has transgressed the precepts of Moses; if he condemns her, it will be said that he is inconsistent with his message of mercy towards sinners.
But Jesus does not fall into the trap. By his silence he invites everyone to self-reflection. On the one hand, he invites the woman to acknowledge the wrong committed; on the other, he invites her accusers not to shrink from an examination of conscience: "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her" (John 8: 7).
The woman's situation is certainly serious. But the message flows precisely from this situation: in whatever condition we find ourselves, we can always open ourselves to conversion and receive forgiveness for our sins. "Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again" (John 8: 11). On Calvary, by the supreme sacrifice of his life, the Messiah will seal for every man and woman the infinite gift of God's pardon and mercy.
5. "I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" (Philippians 3: 8). To know Christ! On this last stage of our Lenten journey we are encouraged even more by the liturgy to deepen our knowledge of Jesus, to contemplate his suffering and merciful face, and to prepare ourselves to experience the splendour of his resurrection. We cannot remain on the surface. We must have a deep, personal experience of the richness of Christ's love. Only in this way, as the Apostle says, can we "know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible [we] may attain the resurrection from the dead" (Philippians 3: 10).
Like Paul, every Christian is on a journey; the Church is on a journey. Let us not stop, brothers and sisters, or slow our pace. On the contrary, let us strive with all our strength for the goal to which God calls us. Let us run towards Easter, now close at hand. May Mary, the Virgin of the Way, guide and accompany us with her protection. May she, the Virgin whom you venerate here as "Our Lady of Suffrage", intercede for us now and at the hour of our death, of our final encounter with Christ. Amen!
Pope Saint John Paul II (Homily, 1 April 2001)
1. Today we begin the last stage of our Lenten journey, which next Sunday will bring us into Holy Week. As we approach the great event of Easter, we hear Jesus' invitation more pressing than ever: "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9: 23).
This demanding condition, which Jesus sets for anyone who wishes to follow him, must form the Christian lifestyle, which Lent urges us to examine, renew and deepen. Jesus does not propose mortification as an end in itself. In fact, "denying oneself" and "taking up one's cross" mean thoroughly accepting one's responsibility before God and our neighbour. The Son of God was faithful to the mission entrusted to him by the Father, to the point of shedding his blood for our salvation. He asks his followers to do the same by giving themselves without reserve to God and to their brethren.
By treasuring these words of his, we discover how Lent is the time for a fruitful deepening of our faith. It has a lofty educational value, particularly for young people, who are called to give clear direction to their lives. To each of them Christ says again: "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me".
2. Dear young people, this is precisely the theme of my Message for the 16th World Youth Day, which will be celebrated next Sunday, Palm Sunday, in every Diocese.
Christ is demanding with his disciples, and the Church does not hesitate to repropose his Gospel to you "without shortcuts". Those who are taught by the Divine Master lovingly embrace his Cross, which leads to the fullness of life and happiness. Is it not the Cross which for 15 years now has led the pilgrimage of young people on the occasion of the World Youth Days?
Next Sunday at the end of the Holy Mass in St Peter's Square, this Cross, which has travelled around the world, will be handed over by Rome's young people to those of Toronto, the Canadian city that will host the World Youth Meeting in July 2002.
3. To prepare ourselves for this inspiring ceremony, I invite you, dear young people of Rome, to come here, to St Peter's Square, next Thursday afternoon. We will spend a time of prayer, reflection and celebration together. I am expecting you in large numbers and, while waiting to meet you, I entrust you and your peers from every nation and continent to the Blessed Virgin, that she may lead you to meet her Son, Jesus.
Pope Saint John Paul II (Angelus, 1 April 2001)
1. "Behold, I am doing a new thing" (Isaiah 43: 19).
The Prophet Isaiah invites us to look at the new thing God wants to bring about in the history of salvation. For the people of Israel it was to be liberation from slavery in Babylon and the return to their homeland. For the people of the New Covenant, on the other hand, it was liberation from the slavery of sin, brought about by Christ in his Passover of death and Resurrection.
Aware of this, let us set out on the last stretch of our Lenten journey, encouraged by the liturgy to reject evil with determination and to accept the purifying, renewing grace of God. The Gospel passage just proclaimed urges us to do this. In it, Christ manifests his merciful love, ready to forgive the sinful woman who has repented and to give her the hope of a new life (cf. John 8: 1-11).
3. I know that you prepared yourselves for this meeting by reflecting on the most important and urgent pastoral priorities and apostolic challenges for you at this time. You have very rightly identified the promotion of fraternal communion among all parishioners as an indispensable condition for effective Christian witness in the contemporary world. A united parish, in which the diversity of the ministries and charisms is respected, shows a welcoming family face, motivated solely by the desire to proclaim and witness to the Gospel. Dear brothers and sisters, continue on this path!
To you too, I would also like to repeat the invitation "Duc in altum!" (put out into the deep) that I addressed to the whole Church at the end of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 with my Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte. Put out into the deep, show concern not only for so-called "neighbours", but also for those who live on the fringes of the faith.
4. Have at heart first and foremost families and young people. May a priority goal of your evangelizing action be the pastoral care of youth, making the most of the after-school centres as places for the human, spiritual and ecclesial formation of children and young people. In these centres the different generations can meet to encourage the transmission of the faith to the youngest who need to identify with exemplary figures.
Nor should you slacken your efforts to inspire vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life by your prayers and example: the Church of Rome needs holy priests and men and women religious, men and women who are totally and joyfully consecrated to God for the good of his People.
Lastly, pay attention to the spiritual and material needs of your brethren, both near and far. In this regard, I thank you for the commitment that each community has honoured me with today by its adoption of an oversees orphan.
5. The words of the Apostle Paul spring to mind: "I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3: 8). This is how St Paul expresses the radical change that occurred in his life: from being a persecutor, he became the Apostle to the Gentiles because Christ Jesus has made me "his own" (cf. Philippians 3: 12).
Dear brothers and sisters, let yourselves also be "won" by Christ! May his words of salvation and merciful love penetrate your consciences and guide you in your daily decisions.
May Mary, faithful to the end to the mission entrusted to her, help you to be true to Christ without faltering, to be his credible witnesses among the people in your neighbourhood. The Gospel also needs you to reach the many who, perhaps unconsciously, are waiting for it. Christ is counting on you. Do not disappoint him!
Pope Saint John Paul II (Homily, 27 March 2004)
1. In my Lenten Message this year I asked that children be put at the centre of the Christian communities' attention. Many of them are victims of dangerous diseases, including tuberculosis and AIDS, are deprived of education and go hungry. Starvation and malnutrition, aggravated by disconcerting gaps in health care, continue to be the daily cause of death for many of these little ones who are even denied the minimum indispensable for their survival.
2. In some corners of the earth, especially in the poorest countries, children and adolescents are the victims of a terrible form of violence: they are enlisted to fight in the so-called "forgotten wars".
Indeed, they suffer a doubly scandalous aggression: they are made victims of war, and at the same time forced to play the lead in it, swept away in the hatred of adults. Stripped of everything, they see their future threatened by a nightmare difficult to dispel.
3. Our youngest "brothers and sisters" who suffer from hunger, war and diseases are launching an anguished appeal to the adult world. May their cry of pain not go unheard! Jesus reminds us: "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me" (Matthew 18: 5).
The Lenten season spurs Christians to accept these words of the Gospel more generously in order to express them in courageous interventions for children at risk and abandoned.
May the Virgin Mother of God help children in difficulty and bring success to the efforts of all those who seek lovingly to alleviate their sufferings.
Pope Saint John Paul II (Angelus, 28 March 2004)
See our extracts with pictures in Encouragements-212. 8-)
The Annunciation, recounted at the beginning of St Luke's Gospel, is a humble, hidden event - no one saw it, no one except Mary knew of it -, but at the same time it was crucial to the history of humanity. When the Virgin said her "yes" to the Angel's announcement, Jesus was conceived and with him began the new era of history that was to be ratified in Easter as the "new and eternal Covenant".
In fact, Mary's "yes" perfectly mirrors that of Christ himself when he entered the world, as the Letter to the Hebrews says, interpreting Psalm 40: "As is written of me in the book, I have come to do your will, O God" (Hebrews 10: 7). The Son's obedience was reflected in that of the Mother and thus, through the encounter of these two "yeses", God was able to take on a human face.
This is why the Annunciation is a Christological feast as well, because it celebrates a central mystery of Christ: the Incarnation.
"Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your Word". Mary's reply to the Angel is extended in the Church, which is called to make Christ present in history, offering her own availability so that God may continue to visit humanity with his mercy. The "yes" of Jesus and Mary is thus renewed in the "yes" of the saints, especially martyrs who are killed because of the Gospel.
I stress this because yesterday, 24 March, the anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, we celebrated the Day of Prayer and Fasting for Missionary Martyrs: Bishops, priests, Religious and lay people struck down while carrying out their mission of evangelization and human promotion.
These missionary martyrs, as this year's theme says, are the "hope of the world", because they bear witness that Christ's love is stronger than violence and hatred. They did not seek martyrdom, but they were ready to give their lives in order to remain faithful to the Gospel. Christian martyrdom is only justified when it is a supreme act of love for God and our brethren.
In this Lenten Season we often contemplate Our Lady, who on Calvary sealed the "yes" she pronounced at Nazareth. United to Christ, Witness of the Father's love, Mary lived martyrdom of the soul. Let us call on her intercession with confidence, so that the Church, faithful to her mission, may offer to the whole world a courageous witness of God's love.
Pope Benedict XVI (Angelus, 25 March 2007)
We have reached the Fifth Sunday of Lent in which the Liturgy this year presents to us the Gospel episode of Jesus who saves an adulterous woman condemned to death (John 8: 1-11). While he is teaching at the Temple the Scribes and Pharisees bring Jesus a woman caught in the act of adultery for which Mosaic law prescribed stoning. Those men ask Jesus to judge the sinful woman in order "to test him" and impel him to take a false step. The scene is full with drama: the life of that person and also his own life depend on Jesus. Indeed, the hypocritical accusers pretend to entrust the judgement to him whereas it is actually he himself whom they wish to accuse and judge. Jesus, on the other hand, is "full of grace and truth" (John 1: 14): he can read every human heart, he wants to condemn the sin but save the sinner, and unmask hypocrisy. St John the Evangelist highlights one detail: while his accusers are insistently interrogating him, Jesus bends down and starts writing with his finger on the ground. St Augustine notes that this gesture portrays Christ as the divine legislator: in fact, God wrote the law with his finger on tablets of stone (cf. Commentary on John's Gospel, 33,5). Thus Jesus is the Legislator, he is Justice in person. And what is his sentence? "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her". These words are full of the disarming power of truth that pulls down the wall of hypocrisy and opens consciences to a greater justice, that of love, in which consists the fulfilment of every precept (cf. Romans 13: 8-10). This is the justice that also saved Saul of Tarsus, transforming him into St Paul (cf. Philipians 3: 8-14).
When his accusers "went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest", Jesus, absolving the woman of her sin, ushers her into a new life oriented to good. "Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again". It is the same grace that was to make the Apostle say: "One thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3: 13-14). God wants only goodness and life for us; he provides for the health of our soul through his ministers, delivering us from evil with the Sacrament of Reconciliation, so that no one may be lost but all may have the opportunity to convert. In this Year for Priests I would like to urge Pastors to imitate the holy Curé d'Ars in the ministry of sacramental pardon so that the faithful may discover its meaning and beauty and be healed by the merciful love of God, who "even forces himself to forget the future so that he can grant us his forgiveness!" (Letter to Priests for the Inauguration of the Year for Priests, 16 June 2009).
Dear friends, let us learn from the Lord Jesus not to judge and not to condemn our neighbour. Let us learn to be intransigent with sin starting with our own! and indulgent with people. May the holy Mother of God, free from all sin, who is the mediatrix of grace for every repentant sinner, help us in this.
Pope Benedict XVI (Angelus, 21 March 2010)
This is a beautiful story. First we have Jesus alone on the mountain, praying. He was praying alone (cf. John 8:1). Then he went back to the Temple, and all the people went to him (cf. v. 2). Jesus in the midst of the people. And then, at the end, they left him alone with the woman (cf. v. 9). That solitude of Jesus! But it is a fruitful solitude: the solitude of prayer with the Father, and the beautiful solitude that is the Church’s message for today: the solitude of his mercy towards this woman.
And among the people we see a variety of attitudes: there were all the people who went to him; he sat and began to teach them: the people who wanted to hear the words of Jesus, the people with open hearts, hungry for the word of God. There were others who did not hear anything, who could not hear anything; and there were those who brought along this woman: Listen, Master, this woman has done such and such ... we must do what Moses commanded us to do with women like this (cf. vv. 4-5).
I think we too are the people who, on the one hand want to listen to Jesus, but on the other hand, at times, like to find a stick to beat others with, to condemn others. And Jesus has this message for us: mercy. I think – and I say it with humility – that this is the Lord’s most powerful message: mercy. It was he himself who said: "I did not come for the righteous". The righteous justify themselves. Go on, then, even if you can do it, I cannot! But they believe they can. "I came for sinners" (Mark 2:17).
Think of the gossip after the call of Matthew: he associates with sinners! (cf. Mark 2:16). He comes for us, when we recognize that we are sinners. But if we are like the Pharisee, before the altar, who said: I thank you Lord, that I am not like other men, and especially not like the one at the door, like that publican (cf. Luke 18:11-12), then we do not know the Lord’s heart, and we will never have the joy of experiencing this mercy! It is not easy to entrust oneself to God’s mercy, because it is an abyss beyond our comprehension. But we must! "Oh, Father, if you knew my life, you would not say that to me!" "Why, what have you done?" "Oh, I am a great sinner!" "All the better! Go to Jesus: he likes you to tell him these things!" He forgets, he has a very special capacity for forgetting. He forgets, he kisses you, he embraces you and he simply says to you: "Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more" (John 8:11). That is the only advice he gives you. After a month, if we are in the same situation ... Let us go back to the Lord. The Lord never tires of forgiving: never! It is we who tire of asking his forgiveness. Let us ask for the grace not to tire of asking forgiveness, because he never tires of forgiving. Let us ask for this grace.
Pope Francis I (Homily, 17 March 2013)
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Compiled on 31 March 2019
Last updated: 7 April 2019