Saturday, April 10, 2010

5ft Sunday of Lent

On first sight, you might think that today’ and last week’s Gospel (The parable of the prodigal son) are two very different readings. However as I was listening to Father Kurt last week it occurred to me that if you were to place these two readings side by side you will find some things in common. The most significant been that both these stories have the same three characters: God, a sinner, and an accuser, and in both of these stories the accusers make what any good lawyer will call “just demands”. In today’s reading, we see the scribes and Pharisees demanding a judgment from Jesus for a woman that was found in the act of committing a grave sin. In last week we read how the older son speaks to his father about how he feels treated unfairly because he has never asked Him for anything, but when his younger brother returns after wasting his inheritance the father showers him with Gifts.
In both of these stories both sinners’ and accusers stand in the presence of God waiting to hear judgment, and in both cases the most amazing thing happens. Unexpectantly and with complete disregard of the way we humans understand how justice is supposed to work, God ignores the accusers and forgives the sinners.
Now you might think that these two stories are just about the fact that God forgives the sinner. But the stories go beyond this; their main point is to present a God so loving and so eager to forgive sins that he will go out of his way not to condemn us for our sins. Look at today’s reading, when the accusers corner Jesus into bringing judgment by using the same law God Himself gave to Mosses. Jesus refuses to become a Judge and becomes the defense lawyer!! The story says that he bent down and began to write in the sand and “Starting with the eldest ones” he disposed of the accusers one by one. It is not until there was not one person to bring charges on the sinning woman that Jesus assumes the role of Judge. At this moment He delivers the one phrase every human being that has ever lived will give anything to hear God say when they stand in His presence: “I do not condemn you”.
It is not by accident that the Church in Her wisdom has placed these two readings right in the middle of lent; they are here to remind us about God’s incomprehensible desire to forgive our sins. But the Church does more than this, during this season it gives us an opportunity to reach God’s mercy, an opportunity to hear the voice of Jesus telling us, “I do not condemn you, Go, and from now on do not sin any more”
Now if I were to tell you that I know of a sure way in which you too could be lavished with gifts of grace from God, a sure way in which you too can hear the words of forgiveness that we all are so eager to hear, would you believe me? Every Wednesday during lent and every Saturday throughout the year before mass, right here in this same hall, God’s mercy is given for free to anyone that is willing to accept it.
I’m talking about the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Through the ministry of His Church and by the power given to the apostles we can all have our sins forgiven. Isn’t that great news my brothers and sisters??? The sad truth is that just a few of us take advantage of this opportunity. We have many reasons, some of us might have no time to come at these times, some of us might be too ashamed, some too fearful, some might think that the priest will somehow think less of us, some might have some type of temporary impediment like previous marriage or a marriage not consecrated by the church and decide they do not want to bother with such things. The sad reality is that these are not valid reasons they are just excuses. Because of them we end up behaving like the woman in today’s reading, we wait until external circumstances drag us to God in search of mercy, when we should follow the example of last week’s son that recognized his sins and admitted to God: “Father… I do not deserve to be called your child”. God’s forgiveness is available to us for free and we turn our backs to Him because we feel we can go one more week without having to look at our sins and failures, we can go one more week without experiencing his divine mercy.
I believe that the Church has placed these two readings in lent to remind us that there is no need to wait. God is waiting, eager, hungry for our repentance and ready to shower us with gift of grace and forgiveness. We just need to take the first step. I hope to see you here on Wednesday, 7:00PM.