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5th Sunday of Lent, Year C – Homily

5th Sunday of Lent, Year C
Isaiah 43:16-21
Psalm 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6(3)
Philippians 3:8-14
John 8:1-11
April 7, 2019

As Paul writes to the Philippians he tells them, “I consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.

Paul has come to realize the worldly things are not important, hence seeing “everything as a loss.”  How did he come to realize that worldly things are not important?  It is through his encounter with the risen Jesus and everything since then that he has come to see Jesus as the “supreme good.

As a Jew and a Pharisee, Paul had put his trust in following the Mosaic Law.  Now, he realizes that it is not the Law itself that saves but Jesus.  He has come to realize that he cannot save himself but Jesus can save us.  Jesus is the one who, through his death on the Cross, brings us back from our “captivity to sin”.  It is through his forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation that the Lord restores our spiritual fortunes.

Is the Law (centering on the Ten Commandments) good?  Absolutely!  It came from the Lord.  Yet, Jesus opens a way for us to fulfill the Law in a new way. 

We see this way in the way Jesus responds when the scribes and the Pharisees bring to him a woman who was caught in the very act of adultery.  They speak of how the Mosaic Law prescribed stoning in cases of adultery.  They ask Jesus what He thinks.  They really don’t care what He says.  They are just looking for something to charge him with.

Jesus is not concerned.  He uses the opportunity to teach about forgiveness.  His reply is simple, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.

They thought of themselves as holy.  One might think they would go ahead and cast stones but they don’t.  Why?

As this is going on, Jesus is writing something on the ground.  We are never told what He writes but some scholars suggest that perhaps He was writing their sins…greed…theft…envy…coveting.

If you were standing there and Jesus wrote your sins on the ground what would you think? 

None of them say anything.  Rather, “in response, they went away one by one.”  Jesus had said the one without sin could cast the first stone.  While they never name their sins out loud, inside they know their sins.  Thus, they leave in silence, no one throwing a single stone, only Jesus and the woman caught in adultery remain.

Jesus’ words to the woman are simple, “Neither do I condemn you.  Go, and from now on do not any more.

Isaiah speak of the Lord as the one “who opens a way.”  It is a way of forgiveness.  It is a way that calls us to “remember not the events of the past.” 

We cannot change the past.  We can change what we do in the future.  We need to let go of the past.  However, this doesn’t mean the past is okay.  Jesus is not calling us to ignore the past.  He is calling us to let go of the past. 

When we are the ones who sinned, then we need to admit our sins, we need to confess our sins, to hand them over to God who takes them away.

Jesus never says there is no sin.  Sin is real.  He does not excuse the woman’s sin of adultery.  The last two words of Jesus to the woman are essential.  When He tells her to go, He tells her “do not sin ANY MORE.”  That means she has sinned but He does not condemn for her sin.  He forgives her.

Jesus wants to forgive our sins.  To be forgiven we need to admit our sins, meaning we need to confess them to allow Jesus to forgive us.  We do a penance for our sins to show we are sorry.  We make amends where we can but ultimately we need to go of the past whether we are the sinner or a victim.  If the latter, we need to forgive.  If the former, we need to be forgiven.

God wants to forgive us.  That’s why Jesus died for us.  That’s why we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Pope Francis once said, “The confessional is not a torture chamber, but the place in which the Lord’s mercy motivates us to do better.”  The motivation is not based on fear but God’s love.

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