Happy are you when people insult you and persecute you and tell all kinds of evil lies against you because you are my followers. Be happy and glad, for a great reward is kept for you in heaven
God’s forgiveness empowers people to achieve great things with their lives. God’s story about rescuing the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, the conversion and missionary work of St Paul the apostle and the woman caught in adultery — all were blessed with God’s forgiveness when they turned back to God. During this fifth week of Lent, we have the opportunity to reflect on the opportunities God gives us to turn our backs on sin and take up our cross daily in the name of Jesus.
Acknowledgement of Country
I’d like to begin by acknowledging the _________ people, the traditional custodians of the land on which we are gathered. To acknowledge our gratitude that we share this land today, our sorrow for the costs of that sharing, and our hope that we can move to a place of justice and partnership together.
Please fill us with your spirit of love.
Help us to see the world as you do,
to judge with your heart, and to act with
the strength and courage you have shown us
as we work to transform our world.
Reflecting on Action(s)
Before commencing the Gospel reading, recall the action(s) decided upon at the previous meeting.
- Was/Were the action(s) you decided on in the last meeting carried out? Why? / Why not?
- What happened because of the action(s)? What conclusions have you reached about the signs of the presence of God in the situation or event?
- What do you feel as you reflect on your part in the action(s)? Do your feelings “warn” you about some mismatch between the human and the divine, the temporal and the eternal realities of God’s creation?
- How Christlike were you in carrying out the action(s)?
Once you have reflected on the action(s) you had committed yourself to doing, then move on the Gospel reading for this meeting. Do so with the hope that you will learn more about the situation you have chosen to reflect and act on during Lent and how to see, judge and act as God intends for every person created in God’s image.
Read the Gospel aloud in the group and then read it again individually and silently.
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 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.” (John 8:1-11).
- Follow Jesus from the beginning of the story on the Mount of Olives to his words of empowerment to the prostitute at the end of the story. Make a list of the qualities you discover in Jesus through examining his actions. Identify the underlying motive for his actions.
- Next, follow the scribes and Pharisees as they make their way through the story. Establish a plausible back story for them as a group, eg, establish what unites them, what their quest is. Make a list of the qualities you discover in them as you reflect on their actions.
- Then follow the journey of the prostitute. Establish a plausible back story. Identify the change that happens within her through her encounter with Jesus. What does her story teach us about condemnation and the part that God seeks to play in the lives of those condemned as sinners?
- Finally, take the qualities you have identified in the characters in the story and look for them in the situation or event you have been reflecting and acting on during Lent. Does the list of qualities identified in the story of Jesus forgiving the prostitute provide you with further insight into the situation or event?
Now take some time to reflect together on what Christ teaches us about how to live as God intends.
- Choose a quality that you have identified in Jesus and reflect on how your perception of the situation or event you have been reflecting and acting on during Lent changes when you “put on Christ”.
- Considering the situation or event, decide who is the “sinner” and who is the “accuser.” What does Jesus want us to do to/for the “sinner”? How does Jesus want us to act towards the “accuser”?
- If you could direct the ending of the story of the situation or event, how would it end? What was put in place to ensure that the ending came about in a just and loving way? What part did your faith play in this ending?
What you choose to do either as a group, or individually, must be practical and achievable.
- Reflect on how your action(s) has/have developed because of your encounter with Jesus through the Gospel. Share with others in your group the significant moments and insights that now accompany you in your “Emmaus” journey.
- How might your action(s) change because of your reflection on the need for God’s forgiveness in our lives? If you recognise in your life the need for “metanoia,” that is, that you need to turn back towards God in relation to the situation or event you have reviewed, then acknowledge that responsibility you have to God and use this time to take a step in the direction of God (Do what God calls you to do, that is, God’s will.).
- Decide in the group what your final action(s) will be and how you will share what is accomplished. Yes, that’s right, there should be some practical way of continuing this journey together.
- Finally, share your reflections on how you have found this meeting and the experience of journeying together during Lent. One way of doing this is to share words that capture the experience. If there are five members in your group, then you will collect five words, one from each member. Work collaboratively on this so that no word is repeated. There are many ways of using these words to recall the experience of journey together in faith and love with Jesus.
teach me to be generous,
to serve you as you deserve to be served,
to give without counting the cost,
to fight without counting the wounds,
to work without seeking rest,
and to spend my life without expecting any other return
than the knowledge that I do your holy will.
Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery (one of a set of 12 scenes from The Life of Christ) – panel by Jan Rombouts. / Wikipedia / Metropolitan Museum of Art