Fifth Sunday of Lent


Conversion of the Heart

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Isaiah 43:16-21

Thus says the LORD, who opens a way in the sea and a path in the mighty waters, who leads out chariots and horsemen, a powerful army, till they lie prostrate together, never to rise, snuffed out and quenched like a wick. Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? In the desert I make a way, in the wasteland, rivers. Wild beasts honor me, jackals and ostriches, for I put water in the desert and rivers in the wasteland for my chosen people to drink, the people whom I formed for myself, that they might announce my praise.

Philippians 3:8-14

Brothers and sisters: I consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having any righteousness of my own based on the law but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God, depending on faith to know him and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ Jesus. Brothers and sisters, I for my part do not consider myself to have taken possession. Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.

John 8:1-11

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

Susanna Mak

“The Lord has done great things for us, and we rejoice”, the Psalmist boldly proclaims (Ps 126:3). Indeed, we have been richly blessed with God’s love and mercy. During the past four Sundays of Lent, we have been reminded of the unfathomable depth and width of God’s love and mercy, and are called to repent and believe in the Gospel. God has promised us a new beginning, “I am about to do a new thing; […] do you not perceive it” (Is 43:19)? From the water that destroys the entire army of Pharaoh in the OT to the living water that cleanses, quenches thirst, and gives life in the NT, God continues to reveal His salvific plan to humanity (Ref. Is 43:16-21, Jn 4:13-14). In the first reading, Isaiah reaffirms the faithfulness of God: God has “extinguished” the Pharaoh’s army and will “make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Is 43:17, 19). Similarly, God has the power to transform the arid landscape of our hearts into lush and fertile grounds.

In this week’s Gospel, Jesus is, once again, tested by the scribes and Pharisees. They brandish the Law of Moses, like a lethal weapon, that “commanded [them] to stone” the woman who has been caught in adultery (Jn 8:5). Jesus gently avoids such trap by challenging their hypocrisy, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (Jn 8:7). When everyone has left without throwing a single stone, Jesus does not condemn the woman but urges her “from now on do not sin again” (Jn 8:11). Jesus has not only shown mercy to the sinner but more importantly, he has demonstrated that our sins cannot be blotted out by the letter of the law but only by God’s mercy. Further, true conversion of the heart is rooted in faith. St. Paul explains that we may “gain Christ” not through “righteousness of [our] own that comes from the law but one that comes from faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith” (Ph 3:9). Indeed, Jesus comes not to negate or abolish the Old Law – the Law of Moses: The Ten Commandments – but to fulfill it (ref. CCC 1962). “The Law of the Gospel “fulfills,” refines, surpasses, and leads the Old Law to its perfection” (CCC 1967). This new law, “The Law of the Gospel […] does not add new external precepts, but proceeds to reform the heart, the root of human acts, […] where faith, hope, and charity are formed and with them the other virtues” (CCC 1968).

Ultimately, Jesus has done way more for this woman by showing her that true freedom from sin is rooted in the conversion of the heart. Henri Nouwen explains, “That is what conversion is all about. It is a complete turnaround that allows us to discover that we are not the prisoners we think we are. […] We worry about many things and even wound ourselves while worrying. God says: ‘Turn around, set your heart on my kingdom. I give you all the freedom you desire’” (Nouwen 54). When Jesus tells the woman not to sin again, He has not only lifted the burden of sin from her but also shown her a way towards genuine freedom and a new beginning. This story, like so many other stories in the Bible, calls us to turn to God without reservation.

As we journey along the last stretch of Lent towards the climax of God’s salvific plan, Christ’s death and resurrection, let us pray for courage to stay faithful and hopeful; keep “straining forward to what lies ahead” and “press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus” (Ph 3:14).

Nouwen, Henri. Here and Now: Living in the Spirit. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1994.

Susanna Mak

Susanna has a deep conviction that faith needs to be manifested in daily life, particularly, in one’s encounters with others as well as amidst dilemmas, choices, and challenges. She strives to be a living sign of God’s love and hope as a daughter, sister, friend, aunt, wife, teacher, chaplain, life-long learner, and occasional writer for FLL. She has been a high school teacher in Toronto for almost 20 years, with experiences in English and literacy, youth leadership initiatives, the Chaplaincy Team, to mention a few. She has a B. Comm, B.A. in English, and a B. Education from University of Toronto, an M.A. in Integrated Studies from Athabasca University, and a Graduate Certificate of Theological Studies from Regis College, U of T. She is humbled by the opportunity to be part of the FLL Writing Team.


聖枝主日 (丙年)


「因上主之名而來的君王,應受讚頌!」(路 19:38)


依撒意亞先知書 50:4-7
斐理伯書 2:6-11
路加所載主耶穌基督的受難始末 22:14-23:56

































































Shiu Lan

今天是聖枝主日,紀念耶穌榮進耶路撒冷,為聖週之開始。雖然耶穌幾番拒絕被立為王,衪選擇了時間,詳細地準備以默西亞的身份進城。被稱為帶來救恩的達味之子,耶穌坐着一隻從沒有被人騎過的小驢進入聖城,以象徵祂的王權。那一天,衪王國的子民是兒童和心謙的人,他們歡呼「因上主之名而來的君王,應受讚頌」。 今天,我們以同樣的字眼在感恩聖祭禮儀《歡呼歌》中來讚頌祂:「聖、聖、聖、上主、萬有的主,祢的光榮充滿天地。奉主名而來的,當受讚美。歡呼之聲,響徹雲霄」(賀三納Hosanna 的意思是「啊,請救我們吧」或「請給我們救恩」)(參考 天主教教理 559,570)。

在福音讀經中,我們聽到聖路加所載基督的受難始末。在這段經文中,最觸動我的是耶穌的清白。比拉多和黑落德二人都找不到耶穌任何罪證。「比拉多第三次對他們說:『這人到底作了什麼惡事?我在他身上查不出什麼應死的罪狀來』」( 路 23:22) 。同樣,黑落德也找不到任何罪證,他「鄙視他,戲笑他」 但「把他解回比拉多那裏」( 路 23:11) 。耶穌「斷了氣」後,「百夫長看見所發生的事,遂光榮天主說『這人,實在是一個義人』」( 路 23:46,47)。 所有同來看這景象的群眾,見了這些情形,都「搥着胸膛,回去了」( 路 23:48)。

耶穌雖知道為了罪人的叛逆要接受酷刑至死,但仍心甘情願地上耶路撒冷去 (天主教教理 569)。祂這樣做是為服從天父和愛我們罪人,祂「謙抑自下,服從至死,而且死在十字架上」(斐 2:8)。

教宗在四旬期文告中邀請今天的基督徒在個人、家庭和社交生活裏,更深刻和具體地去領悟逾越奧蹟。若我們跟隨這旅程,教宗說:「我們可以從天主為祂的受造物和為我們的計劃中,重新找到喜樂,就是愛衪,愛我們的兄弟姊妹,愛整個世界,並從這仁愛中,找到自己真正的快樂」。( 教宗方濟各四旬期文告 2019)。



Shiu Lan

Shiu Lan is your Catholic neighbour with a simple faith and likes praying the Rosary. With a B.Sc from the University of Hong Kong, she worked in Information Technology and Project Management before working with joy at home.






依撒意亚先知书 43:16-21


斐理伯书 3:8-14


若望福音 8:1-11


Susanna Mak

《圣咏》作者大胆地宣告:「上主向我们行了伟大奇迹,我们的确也觉得满心欢喜」(咏126:3)。确实,天主一直赐给我们丰盛的仁爱和慈悲。在四旬期过去的四个主日,我们不断被提醒天主的爱和慈悲是何等的深厚和广濶,召唤我们悔改并相信福音。天主向我们应许了一个新的开始,「看哪!我要行一件新事;[…] 你们不知道吗」(依 43:19)?从旧约中使法老全军覆没的水,以至新约中能洁净、解除饥渴和带来生命的活水,天主不断向人类揭示祂的救赎计划(参 依 43:16-21,若 4:13-14)。在读经一,依撒意亚重申了天主的信实:天主「消灭」法老的军队,在「荒野中开辟道路,在沙漠里开掘河流」(依 43:17,19)。同样,天主亦有能力将我们干涸至龟裂的心灵转变成丰盛肥沃的土地。

本周的福音,耶稣再一次受到经师和法利塞人的挑战。他们挥舞着梅瑟律法书,像一把杀人利器,要「用石头」砸死在犯奸淫时被逮捕的妇人(若 8:5)。但耶稣却轻描淡写地以质疑他们的虚伪,来避开了这陷阱:「你们中间谁没有罪,先向她投石罢」(若8:7)。当没有人投出石头而离开时,耶稣并没有谴责这个女人,只是敦促她「从今以后,不要再犯罪了」(若 8:11)。耶稣不仅向罪人表示怜悯,更重要的是,他证明了我们所犯的罪,只能通过天主的慈悲,而不能通过律法的规条抹去。此外,心灵的真正转变植根于信德。圣保禄解释,我们能够「结合于祂」不是「借【我】因守法律获得的正义,而是借由于信仰基督获得的正义,即出于天主而本于信德的正义」(斐 3:9)。而实际上,耶稣来不是为否定或废除旧律法─梅瑟律法:十诫─而是要完成它(参见 天主教教理 1962)。福音的法律使旧约法律得以「完成」,净化、超越并达致完美。(天主教教理 1967)。这项新法律「福音的法律」并没有加添新的外在规范,却直接改造人类行为的根,就是改革人心【…】形成信、望、爱三德,并偕同此三德,修练其他的美德」(天主教教理 1968)。

最终,耶稣为这位妇女所做最重要的事情,是向她展示,真正脱离罪恶,获得自由,是植根于心灵的转变。 卢云神父解释:「这就是改变的意义。这是一个彻底的转变,我们以为自己是囚犯,但转变让我们发现我们不是。【…】我们担心很多事情,甚至担心至伤害自己。天主说:「转过身来,着眼于我的天国。我会给你所有你想要的自由」(Nouwen 54)。当耶稣告诉那妇人不要再犯罪时,祂不仅解除了她的罪恶枷锁,同时向她展示了真正的自由之路和一个新的开端。像圣经中许多其他故事一样,这个故事要求我们毫无保留地信靠天主。

现在是四旬期最后一段旅程,当我们步向天主救赎计划中的高潮─基督的圣死和复活时,让我们祈求天主赐给我们勇气,保持信德和盼望;继续「只向在我前面的奔驰」,「为达到目标,为争取天主在基督耶稣内召我向上争夺的奖品」(斐 3:14)。

Nouwen, Henri 着 Here and Now: Living in the Spirit. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1994.

Susanna Mak

Susanna深信,信仰需要在日常生活中显露出来,尤其是当与别人相处时,需要分担对方所面对的困境、抉择和挑战。她有着很多不同的身份:女儿、姐姐、朋友、姨姨、妻子、老师、校牧、终身学习者和偶尔替《生命恩泉》写作的作者。在每一个身份当中, 她努力为天主的爱和希望作见证。 她在多伦多担任高中教师近二十年,拥有英语、学生读写能力、青年领袖活动、校牧组等经验。 她是多伦多大学商业和英语学士,教育学士,亚省Athabasca大学综合研究硕士,以及拥有多伦多大学Regis学院神学研究硕士证书。她对于成为《生命恩泉》写作团队的一份子, 深感荣幸。