The first reading is addressed to people who are just about to emerge from a huge catastrophe, a crushing defeat, after a long battle trying to survive. God reminds them that he is going to change the bleak past and do something new. This is the people of Israel, in exile in Babylon, on the eve of their liberation.
In today’s gospel, a truly unfortunate woman will be saved by Jesus’ intervention. He will come to her defense, to rescue her from the common enemy that she and Jesus face together.
This is what God does in the Old Testament—He saves his people. And this is what Jesus does in his ministry in the gospels. And this is the experience that St. Paul describes so movingly in his own life in the second reading. In fact, in Paul’s estimation, knowing Jesus in this way outweighs any other possible advantage we could ever enjoy in life. So Paul, like Israel in our first reading and the woman in the gospel, needs to forget what lies behind and to strain forward to what lies ahead.
That’s a good strategy for us, too, at the conclusion of Lent, as we look forward to our celebration of Easter.
—Walter Modrys SJ
This Sunday’s readings can be found on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website.