Seek the Joy in the Desert
Our world feels broken.
The brokenness across the globe - the weight of the pandemic, of increasing prices, war across the world - feels heavy as we journey towards the end of Lent. Next week we will shout Hosanna and wave palms, but this week we are still fasting in the desert.
Today’s second reading comes from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians. St. Paul’s words caution that we are to suffer for our faith: I consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. It feels like because we are choosing God, we are doomed to suffer.
However, God does not want us to suffer in this way. He wants us to experience the joy of the resurrection, and we are almost to the end of our time of fasting. In today’s psalm, we proclaim “The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.” Even when the world feels broken, we still have our faith and great gifts from God. We hear examples of these gifts in the first reading from Isaiah - water in the desert, rivers in the wasteland, all for God’s chosen people. We are God’s chosen people. He has chosen us to receive and rejoice in His gifts. When the world is heavy, it can be easy to forget that we are chosen and called by God. We can feel abandoned.
In today’s Gospel from John, we hear the story of the women caught in adultery and brought before Jesus for judgment. According to the law, she should have been stoned. Though she does not speak at this point in the encounter, we can imagine that she must have felt abandoned by those who who promised to protect her. While waiting for her fate, Jesus spoke the words we know well, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” God does not want to condemn us. He does not want to abandon us. He does not seek to punish us for our sins. Rather, He desires us to reap the joys of salvation.
The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy. Did you break your Lenten fast? Did you quarrel with a friend? Have felt like you are failing at Lent? God does not seek to condemn or punish us for our brokenness. We can always start again. Remember the psalm from today and seek the joy in the coming days of Easter. Remember the final words from Jesus today: Go, and from now on do not sin any more.