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Sunday, April 7, 2019

A Homily - The Fifth Sunday of Lent (Year C)


A Homily

2019.04.07 – (The Fifth Sunday of Lent) C


First Reading – Isaiah 43:16-21 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 125(126) ©
Second Reading – Philippians 3:8-14 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Joel 2:12-13
The Gospel According to John 8:1-11 ©
(NJB)


Listen!

God does not intervene in the affairs of human beings or in the machinations of emperors and kings.

Be careful how you read the words of the prophet.

The people were wrong to give God credit for their successful flight from Egypt.

God had nothing to do with the flight of the Israelites from Egypt it. God loved the Egyptians too, they were God’s children, and God mourned their passing, just as God mourns the victims of all human conflict.

There is no need to recall the past, we should not celebrate this narrative, or glorify the crimes of warfare we committed against each other. Move beyond the crimes the Egyptians visited on the Israelites that caused them to flee into the desert, or the crimes the Israelites themselves committed on their sojourn and after, when they crossed the Jordan, and put dozens of tribes to the sword.

Let it go.

God is patient, God is waiting for us to put aside our wild ways, to walk humbly, to love mercy and to seek justice, as God does, and in so doing to give God praise.


Know this and remember:.
It was not God, the creator of the universe, who freed the Jews from captivity in Babylon. It was the king of Persia.

It was a good deed, and it honored the fellowship that all human beings share.

Listen!

Insofar as all good deeds have their origin in the goodness we all derive from God, then yes, God deserves the credit. Nevertheless, it was the free choice of the Persian King to release those who had been enslaved, allow them to return to their homes.

Not all of them did, many remained living in the diaspora as citizens of Persia.

Those who returned to Judea regarded their neighbors and cousins who had never left the land as impure and outcast, as gentiles and worse.

This was a crime against them.

Listen to the Apostle, and do not try to measure yourself against him. Do not measure yourself against his good deeds or his bad deeds.

Know this, and know that your destiny is the same as his, the same as the Samaritans, the same as the King of Persia, the same as the returning Judeans, the same as the Jews of the diaspora, the same as the Canaanites, the Amorites and the Hittites, the same as the Egyptians and the same as all Israelites.

God has prepared a place for you in eternity, and God has laid plans to see that you will find it.

The Apostle expresses the greatest wisdom when he articulates the view that the things of the world, all of them, all of our deeds, that everything is rubbish.

This is not to say that we should throw it all away, discard everything, and appreciate nothing, but it is to understand that all of our works are temporary, transient, and will be forgotten. The entire planet will go up in smoke, swallowed by our mother-star and there will be nothing left of any of us.

That day will come…eventually.

What matters is only how we treat each other that we walk humbly, love mercy and seek justice, all the days of our lives, as much as we are able, for this is the way that Jesus taught us to live.

Remember this:

The anointed one is not a king, Jesus was not a lord. The Romans crowned him with thorns and mocked him when they called him king of the Jews. This title was not meant to be taken seriously. He was the son of a carpenter, and the friend of fishermen.

Jesus was a man of the land, one of the am haaretz. Go to him, follow him, enter the way of compassion.

Contemplate the sacrifice of mercy. It is what Jesus offered.

Mercy is the only sacrifice desired by God; by God the creator of the universe.

There is little else to say in regard to the Gospel of the day.

The reading gives us a narrative of Jesus at the Temple, in the place that is the center of cultic ritual for his people. And in that place his understanding of the traditions of his people is challenged by a group of Pharisees, his peers, and a group of scribes who are also students of the sacred texts.

Jesus is presented with a problem, a legal matter; the question concerns the proper way to deal with a woman who has been caught in the act of adultery.

Testimony was not given.

A witness did not come forward.

A defense was not offered.

A group had gathered; intent on killing her, intent on squeezing the breath out of her by placing large stones on her chest, as stonings were done in the tradition of the Hebrews.

The crowd felt that they had a sacred obligation to fulfill; they had a duty according to the laws of Moses. The adulteress must be put to death; to satisfy it.

In this regard the “law of Moses” had become a fetish, like an idol and the crowd wanted to satisfy it, to present a human sacrifice in the temple precinct.

The Pharisees and Scribes wanted to test Jesus, and the crowd who gathered wanted the spectacle of a killing.

Jesus responds by offering the only thing that God desires, the only thing that anyone there could freely to give.

He offers her mercy, and through her the offer is given directly to God. A sacrifice of mercy substituted for her life.

Do not read the story as if Jesus defeated the crowd. Read it as if he passed the test, and thwarted the efforts of his opponents to trip him up.

The crowd understood his compassion, and they loved him for it, he showed them the way and they wanted it, he carried the crowd with him, into the sacred place, the place beloved by God. The transited with him into the blessed land, the place of mercy and compassion, of humility and justice.

Jesus was the first to make the offering and one by one as the crowd dispersed, they each left an offering of the same.


First Reading – Isaiah 43:16-21 ©

See, I am Doing a New Deed, and I Will Give My Chosen People Drink

Thus says the Lord, who made a way through the sea, a path in the great waters; who put chariots and horse in the field and a powerful army which lay there never to rise again, snuffed out, put out like a wick:

No need to recall the past, no need to think about what was done before.
See, I am doing a new deed, even now it comes to light; can you not see it?
Yes, I am making a road in the wilderness, paths in the wilds.

The wild beasts will honour me, jackals and ostriches, because I am putting water in the wilderness (rivers in the wild) to give my chosen people drink.
The people I have formed for myself will sing my praises.


Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 125(126) ©

What marvels the Lord worked for us! Indeed we were glad.

When the Lord delivered Zion from bondage,
  it seemed like a dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter,
  on our lips there were songs.

What marvels the Lord worked for us! Indeed we were glad.

The heathens themselves said: ‘What marvels
  the Lord worked for them!’
What marvels the Lord worked for us!
  Indeed we were glad.

What marvels the Lord worked for us! Indeed we were glad.

Deliver us, O Lord, from our bondage
  as streams in dry land.
Those who are sowing in tears
  will sing when they reap.

What marvels the Lord worked for us! Indeed we were glad.

They go out, they go out, full of tears,
  carrying seed for the sowing:
they come back, they come back, full of song,
  carrying their sheaves.

What marvels the Lord worked for us! Indeed we were glad.


Second Reading - Philippians 3:8-14 ©

I Look on Everything as so Much Rubbish if Only I Can Have Christ

I believe nothing can happen that will outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For him I have accepted the loss of everything, and I look on everything as so much rubbish if only I can have Christ and be given a place in him. I am no longer trying for perfection by my own efforts, the perfection that comes from the Law, but I want only the perfection that comes through faith in Christ, and is from God and based on faith. All I want is to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and to share his sufferings by reproducing the pattern of his death. That is the way I can hope to take my place in the resurrection of the dead. Not that I have become perfect yet: I have not yet won, but I am still running, trying to capture the prize for which Christ Jesus captured me. I can assure you my brothers, I am far from thinking that I have already won. All I can say is that I forget the past and I strain ahead for what is still to come; I am racing for the finish, for the prize to which God calls us upwards to receive in Christ Jesus.


Gospel Acclamation – Joel 2:12-13
Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!
Now, now – it is the Lord who speaks –
come back to me with all your heart,
for I am all tenderness and compassion.
Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!


The Gospel According to John 8:1-11 ©

'Let the One Among You Who Has Not Sinned Be the First to Throw a Stone'

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 has 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 replied. ‘Neither do I condemn you,’ said Jesus ‘go away, and do not sin any more.’


5th Sunday of Lent (Year C)

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