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.


四旬期第五主日 (丙年)




依撒意亞先知書 43:16-21


斐理伯書 3:8-14


若望福音 8:1-11


Susanna Mak

《聖詠》作者大膽地宣告:「上主向我們行了偉大奇蹟,我們的確也覺得滿心歡喜」(詠126:3)。確實,天主一直賜給我們豐盛的仁愛和慈悲。在四旬期過去的四個主日,我們不斷被提醒天主的愛和慈悲是何等的深厚和廣濶,召喚我們悔改並相信福音。天主向我們應許了一個新的開始,「看哪!我要行一件新事;[…] 你們不知道嗎」(依 43:19)?從舊約中使法老全軍覆沒的水,以至新約中能潔淨、解除饑渴和帶來生命的活水,天主不斷向人類揭示祂的救贖計劃(參 依 43:16-21,若 4:13-14)。在讀經一,依撒意亞重申了天主的信實:天主「消滅」法老的軍隊,在「荒野中開闢道路,在沙漠裏開掘河流」(依 43:17,19)。同樣,天主亦有能力將我們乾涸至龜裂的心靈轉變成豐盛肥沃的土地。

本週的福音,耶穌再一次受到經師和法利塞人的挑戰。他們揮舞著梅瑟律法書,像一把殺人利器,要「用石頭」砸死在犯姦淫時被逮捕的婦人(若 8:5)。但耶穌卻輕描淡寫地以質疑他們的虛偽,來避開了這陷阱:「你們中間誰沒有罪,先向她投石罷」(若8:7)。當沒有人投出石頭而離開時,耶穌並沒有譴責這個女人,衹是敦促她「從今以後,不要再犯罪了」(若 8:11)。耶穌不僅向罪人表示憐憫,更重要的是,他證明了我們所犯的罪,只能通過天主的慈悲,而不能通過律法的規條抹去。此外,心靈的真正轉變植根於信德。聖保祿解釋,我們能夠「結合於祂」不是「藉【我】因守法律獲得的正義,而是藉由於信仰基督獲得的正義,即出於天主而本於信德的正義」(斐 3:9)。而實際上,耶穌來不是為否定或廢除舊律法─梅瑟律法:十誡─而是要完成它(參見 天主教教理 1962)。福音的法律使舊約法律得以「完成」,淨化、超越並達致完美。(天主教教理 1967)。這項新法律「福音的法律」並沒有加添新的外在規範,卻直接改造人類行為的根,就是改革人心【…】形成信、望、愛三德,並偕同此三德,修練其他的美德」(天主教教理 1968)。

最終,耶穌為這位婦女所做最重要的事情,是向她展示,真正脫離罪惡,獲得自由,是植根於心靈的轉變。 盧雲神父解釋:「這就是改變的意義。這是一個徹底的轉變,我們以為自己是囚犯,但轉變讓我們發現我們不是。【…】我們擔心很多事情,甚至擔心至傷害自己。天主說:「轉過身來,着眼於我的天國。我會給你所有你想要的自由」(Nouwen 54)。當耶穌告訴那婦人不要再犯罪時,祂不僅解除了她的罪惡枷鎖,同時向她展示了真正的自由之路和一個新的開端。像聖經中許多其他故事一樣,這個故事要求我們毫無保留地信靠天主。

現在是四旬期最後一段旅程,當我們步向天主救贖計劃中的高潮─基督的聖死和復活時,讓我們祈求天主賜給我們勇氣,保持信德和盼望;繼續「只向在我前面的奔馳」,「為達到目標,為爭取天主在基督耶穌內召我向上爭奪的獎品」(斐 3:14)。

Nouwen, Henri 著 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顯露出來,尤其是當與別人相處時,需要分擔對方所面對的困境、抉擇和挑戰。她有着很多不同的身份:女兒、姐姐、朋友、姨姨、妻子、老師、校牧、終身學習者和偶爾替《生命恩泉》寫作的作者。在每一個身份當中, 她努力為天主的愛和希望作見証。 她在多倫多擔任高中教師近二十年,擁有英語、學生讀寫能力、青年領袖活動、校牧組等經驗。 她是多倫多大學商業和英語學士,教育學士,亞省Athabasca大學綜合研究碩士,以及擁有多倫多大學Regis學院神學研究碩士證書。她對於成為《生命恩泉》寫作團隊的一份子, 深感榮幸。





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。