Fifth Sunday in Lent
Points to note
This reading will need to be treated carefully to avoid any misinterpretation as is often alleged. For starters, some facilitators may not be comfortable mentioning an adulterous woman to children: substitute with a sinner instead. Some early Church authorities actually deleted this passage from the scriptures, partly on the grounds that it may be misinterpreted that Jesus condones sinning. It is appropriate, therefore, to emphasise the fact that in the end, Jesus asked the woman not to sin anymore.
The reading this Sunday rounds off the thread of reconciliation running through this Lent. It basically notes that those who condemn should be without sin. Consequently, on a more positive note, we cannot ask to be forgiven if we do not ourselves forgive. As in previous Sundays, you may wish to re-emphasise the lessons of Sundays past at the beginning of the discussion. Also, use examples in children everyday lives.
Acclamation before the Gospel
Praise and honour to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!
Seek good and not evil so that you may live,
and that the Lord God of hosts may really be with you.
Praise and honour to you, O Christ!
The Lord be with you.
All: And also with you.
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St John
All: Glory to you O Lord
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 along 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 have 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 said. “Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus, “go away and don’t sin any more.”
This is the Gospel of the Lord
All: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ
Begin by running through the lessons of past Sundays.
Discuss what happened and what they do when people get upset with one another -- parents with children, etc. They don’t speak to each other, they refuse to share, etc. Discuss whether Mom will remain upset with them forever. Discuss how the children could help Mom get over her anger. Discuss ways of making up – a hug, a kiss, saying sorry, be a good child. Basically, we have to prove to Mom that we really mean it when we say we are sorry. Explain the meaning of reconciliation - it means bringing together two persons who are away from each other.
Discuss how and why we make up with God. The rite of reconciliation and saying sorry prayers. Explain briefly the rite of reconciliation. Explain that we have to be sincere when we go for our confession or when we say our sorry prayers. What are the examples of sorry prayers?
We also should be willing to forgive others. Sometimes, we do not make up with others after we fight with them. Instead, we accuse them of starting the fight or other things. As they always say, when you point your finger at someone else, three fingers point back at you. Perhaps, instead of pointing at them, we could open our hands to shake hands with them. That way, five fingers point at them but none back at us.
Remember the Our Father. Run through the prayer and identify where the sorry bits of the prayer are. Note that we ask God to forgive us as much as we forgive others. This basically means that if we do not forgive others, then we are asking God not to forgive us.
You may wish to run through the parable of the unforgiving servant (Mt 18:23-35).