REMEMBER NOT THE FORMER THINGS… I AM DOING A NEW THING (Isa 43:18-19)
⏰Fifth Sunday of Lent (Year C) – Third Scrutiny
📕Isa 43:16-21; Psalm 126:1-2ab, 2cd-3, 4-5, 6 (R.v.3); Phil 3:8-14; John 8:1-11
🎤“REMEMBER NOT THE FORMER THINGS… I AM DOING A NEW THING (Isa 43:18-19)
Today, being the Fifth Sunday of Lent, we celebrate the Third Scrutiny in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) for the candidates who are preparing for Baptism at Easter Vigil. In places where we have candidates for this, the Gospel is taken from John 11:1-45. So we pray to the Lord for them, that like Lazarus, they may receive the gift of new life from Christ, our resurrection and life. Amen.
The popular explanation given to the incidence of Lot’s wife turning into a pillar of salt (cf. Gen 19:26) is that she disobeyed the angel’s instruction, which forbade them from looking back at the city being destroyed (cf. Gen 19:17). I strongly think that she probably looked back as a result of the goodies they used to enjoy in that land. Remember that Lot had chosen the place because it was fertile and good, even though there was evil going on in it (cf. Gen 13:10).
The tendency to hold on to past glory, not minding that it may not be leading us to God is one evil that is killing us more than cancer. The people of Israel had similar experience. Recall what they told Moses in the wilderness, “If only we had died at the Lord’s hand in Egypt, as we sat by our kettles of meat and ate our fill of bread” (Exod 16:3). Imagine the foolishness of men! They preferred to die in the land of captivity because of temporary gains it offered than to proceed into the land of freedom because they are unsure of what it held for them.
Is that not what happens to us too when we think of the enjoyment we derive from a particular sin we are involved in? Do we not sometimes give in to sin because we are afraid of the outcome of remaining morally upright.
Think of that moment you are told that unless you cheat, you cannot gain promotion or make profit in business? Think also of that juicy offer you were made only on the condition that you offer your body for sexual gratification.
No matter your past condition or what you stand to gain from sinful life, the prophet Isaiah is telling you today that God is going to create something new and better for you. He gave that message of hope first to the people of Israel in exile. With the hindsight on the first exodus where God overpowered the Egyptians before them, Isaiah told them that this new exodus would be greater than the first. Hence, just as in the first, Moses promised the Israelites, “The Lord will fight for you; you have only to keep still” (Exod 14:14), so he still tells us in a greater way today.?
The testimony of St. Paul in the Second Reading already gives us the hope that those who put their trust in the Lord shall not be disappointed but shall renew their strength. Notice that it was not an easy road for St. Paul himself but the hope of what lies ahead kept him going. That hope is on nothing else than Jesus’ love and righteousness. That is the love which Jesus showed the adulterous woman in the Gospel.
You can see! God is not interested in our evil past. He wants us to change and live for him (cf. Ezek 33:11). Hence, he told the woman, just as he tells us today, “Neither do I condemn you; go and do not sin again” (John 8:11).
May God help us to respond positively to this call to faith, and may our faith not fail us in the end. Amen