Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Catholic 725: Fifth Sunday of Lent. Year C. - Sunday, April 7, 2019

Homily Fifth Sunday of Lent. Year C.  - Sunday, April 7, 2019
Isa 43:16-21
Ps 125:1-2a, 2b-3, 4-5, 6. The Lord has done great things for us, we are filled with joy. 
Phil 3:8-14
John 8:1-11
++++Please listen to my audio recordings of the readings, prayers and reflections for the Fifth Sunday of Lent. Year C.  - Sunday, April 7, 2019 by clicking this link here:   https://soundcloud.com/user-633212303/lent-5c-faith-hope-and-love-ep-149/s-HPsHb  (EPISODE: 149)
There is a beautiful little theme thread running through the readings this weekend that I find delightful:  'no need to recall the past, (the blessings of God are not all in the past), God is doing something new in this time and in this place. And Saint Paul picks up this thread again as he says: "I forget the past and strain ahead for what is to come."   God is still at work in our lives here and now.  God wants us to look forward and not dwell on the past and certainly not to be held back by past sins and mistakes.  This is wonderful. 
I came across a story about a soldier in Napoleon's army during a time of war. ...
"The story is told of a young French soldier who deserted Napoleon's army but who, within a matter of hours, was caught by his own troops. To discourage soldiers from abandoning their posts the penalty for desertion was death. The young soldier's mother heard what had happened and went to plead with Napoleon to spare the life of her son. Napoleon heard her plea but pointed out that because of the serious nature of the crime her son had committed he clearly did not deserve mercy.

      "I know he doesn't deserve mercy," the mother answered.
       "It wouldn't be mercy if he deserved it."

That is the point about mercy: nobody deserves it. Everyone deserves true justice; mercy, on the other hand, is sheer gift. Mercy cancels out wrongs and transgressions – not because a sparkling defence has been found or excusing causes have been skilfully argued, but because that is the free response of the person who is grieved. Mercy does not suggest that the guilty are not guilty; it recognises the guilt but does not demand satisfaction for the wrong. In all this, mercy reflects the utter graciousness of the one who has been wronged."^

This weekend's gospel is surely one of the most beautiful Gospel passages in all of Scripture. It is as if this one account of how Jesus actually treated this woman gives a clear picture of the whole meaning of the Gospel and the way approaches us in our sin and our weakness. 
There is no doubt about what the law at the time of Our Lord dictated as a penalty for the type of sin alleged here. Jesus, however, puts the whole relationship of sin and punishment into a new light: mercy and compassion. 
In God's eyes, it is never just about the law and justice and how we have acted in relation to that. Jesus, time and time again has reminded us that we are whole human beings, and that Jesus calls us to wholeness. So we do not do ourselves much good if we only focus on actions or even sins unless we see them in the broader context of who we are as humans created by God in love. It is also about love and mercy and compassion. 
I am sure we would all like to live out that mercy and compassion in our lives. Lent is the time to reflect on our own relationships with others. We no longer stone people to death for breaking laws, (thank Goodness), but tragically and shockingly, there are still places in the world where this horrific penalty still applies. And let's face it, even in the absence of "stoning" - there are other ways of "striking people down" for their mistakes, sins and weaknesses. We have probably all seen examples where a persons' sin or weaknesses have been thrown back in their face by others, even in situations where the sin or weakness is actually not relevant at all to whatever is the present issue at hand. A person's fault and sins can be a powerful weapon that is used against them. It is all-too-tempting for people to use a person's sins and faults against them for their own advantage.
Lent is a time to reflect on our own calling to live as Jesus Christ lived: with love, compassion, and mercy for everyone and for all creation. What an enormous challenge! 
Whenever we might be tempted to reject another person, we could benefit from thinking of this Gospel passage and realize that we actually condemn ourselves if we reject others. This kind of thinking clearly does not condone the sin. Jesus is clear at the end of this Gospel passage: "Go, and from now on do not sin anymore." There is no sense that the sin involved here is in any way being condoned — (although we often rightly ask; where is the other party?? Where is the man?  This situation is terribly unjust. The woman is being brought before Our Lord by the Pharisees and Scribes, not because they are concerned for her welfare, but her predicament is being used as a nasty trap for Jesus). And it is hypocrisy! The woman is being brought forward for punishment whilst the man is nowhere to be seen. 
In any case, this woman is herself a beloved and cherished daughter of God and needs more than ever, God's love, mercy and compassion at this time. 
Isn't it interesting that there is no one more compassionate, loving and gentle towards those who have fallen than truly holy people…. Saints are often the ones found amongst those who have sinned and are rejected..…   And the presence of these saints among them is loving, compassionate, gentle… 
True disciples look nothing like the self-righteous and scheming experts that Our Lord encounters in this Gospel. There is no one more judgmental hypocritical, condemnatory and intolerant than this type of self-righteous phoney. At first glance, the true disciple and these hypocrites, can look very similar, but the actions and attitudes of these other people show them up for what they really are: fakes and frauds.  Jesus shows us the true response to people in their brokenness, sin, and pain, whilst the self-righteous are unbending in their expectations and unforgiving in their demeanor, except, of course, when it comes to their own failings and then they will either deny them, or expect everyone to "move on" quickly and get over it.  Jesus rejects utterly this dreadful double standard. 
How many situations today reflect the need for clear moral thinking. In the Gospel, Jesus is not afraid to call sin what it is. Yet a clear idea of what is right and what is wrong and a clear sense of sin in no way leads to a rejection of the person, nor does anyone ever take delight in the sin or wrongdoing or the fall of others.  
I have a little test I often ask myself: "if you cannot say something with love and in a constructive way, don't say it at all"   for it will almost certainly do no good whatsoever.  I cannot say that I always follow my own advice, but I certainly want to. But it is a reminder of the message of this gospel: There is more at stake than right and wrong, as important as that is! There is ultimately our relationship with a loving God and our relationship with others who are all loved by God as indeed we are. 
In the first reading from the Prophet Isaiah, we could even say that learning to speak clearly and yet with compassion and mercy, is a way of announcing the praise of God. 
If we look at the second reading from the Letter to the Philippians, we can honestly say that we must keep our eyes on the goal, which is living in Christ Jesus and living as He lived in every aspect of our life. We will encounter a cost and certainly a fair degree of pain, for trying to live as Jesus lived, but we will also be transformed. 
Let us pray today for a deepening of the gift of faith in our lives and for the gift of being able to give witness to our faith by speaking the truths of our faith, but always with compassion, love and mercy. May God help us! We certainly need God's help and grace. May we hear the and live the words of Jesus in our lives: "Neither do I condemn you, go on your way in peace and sin no more!"
Fr Paul W. Kelly

^McBride, D. and Hutchinson, M. (2011). Seasons of the word -Reflections on the Sunday Readings. 2nd ed. Hampshire: Redemptorist Publications, p.100.
Abbot's homily –with additions by Fr Paul Kelly http://christdesert.org/

Photo: By Freedom Studio. stock photo ID: 268971974. CHIANGMAI, THAILAND - MARCH 31, 2015. Printed image of Jesus:  women caught in adultery. Picture from  Grace Church Chiangmai. Printed from the end of 20 century. Originally by Korean artist
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May God bless and keep you.

Fifth Sunday of Lent. Year C.
Sunday, April 7, 2019)
(EPISODE: 149 )
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
As we begin the Holy Eucharist, let us acknowledge our sinfulness, so as to worthily celebrate the sacred mysteries.
Lord Jesus, you are mighty God and Prince of peace. Lord have mercy//  You are Son of God and the Son of Mary. Christ have mercy// You are Word made flesh, the splendour of the Father. Lord have mercy.
May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life.  Amen.
Memorial Acclamation
We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection until you come again.
Sunday Lent V
Eucharistic Prayer III

Communion side.  pwk: 
++++Go forth, the Mass is ended.

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