HOMILY – 5TH SUNDAY OF LENT – YEAR C

Fr. Denis Hooper OSB

IF YOU GOOGLE APRIL 3RD YOU WILL DISCOVER THAT IT IS “WORLD PARTY DAY” – WHATEVER THAT MEANS.

TODAY IS THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT. TO MARK THE SEASON OF LENT IN THE SCHOOL WE HAVE HAD ONE PENETENTIAL SERVICE ON FRIDAY AND TWO MORE ARE PLANNED FOR NEXT WEEK. THIS IS A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY FOR THE STUDENTS HERE IN GLENTSTAL ABBEY SCHOOL.

THROUGHOUT THE NEW TESTAMENT PEOPLE COME TO JESUS TO BE HEALED AND TO HEAR WHAT HE HAS TO SAY.

IN TODAY’S GOSPEL THE LADY CAUGHT IN ADULTERY NEITHER WANTS TO HEAR WHAT JESUS HAS TO SAY NOR DOES SHE WANT TO BE HEALED.

SHE HAS OTHER THINGS ON HER MIND, MOST PRESSINGLY FOR HER IS THAT SHE IS ABOUT TO BE EXECUTED BY STONING – AND I AM SURE THAT SORT OF THING TENDS TO FOCUS THE MIND AWAY FROM THINGS LIKE LISTENING OR HEALING.

INTERESTINGLY, HER PARTNER IN THE CRIME OF ADULTERY IS NOT PRESENT. ONLY SHE IS HERE TO PAY FOR THE CRIME. WHAT HAPPENENED TO HIM I WONDER?

THINK OF HER SHAME AT BEING QUOTE – “CAUGHT IN THE VERY ACT OF ADULTRY” – THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT SHE IS GUILTY. THERE IS NO DOUBT IN THE EYES OF THE SCRIBES AND PHARASIEES SHE HAS TO PAY FOR THIS CRIME WITH HER LIFE.

SO, SHE IS DRAGGED BEFORE JESUS BY THE SAME RIGHTEOUS SCRIBES AND PHARASEES. THEY ARE CERTAIN THAT THIS TIME JESUS CANNOT WRIGGLE HIS WAY OUT OF THIS ONE. SHE IS GUILTY AND THE LAW SAYS SHE MUST BE PUNISHED BY STONING TO DEATH. THIS IS A METHEOD OF EXECUTION BY THE WAY WHICH IS STILL PRACTICED IN PARTS OF THE WORLD TODAY.

INSTEAD OF RATIFYING WHAT IS THE LAW OF THE JEWISH AUTHORITIES, JESUS STARTS QUESTIONING THE WOMAN’S ACCUSERS. THERE IS NO NEED FOR ME TO REPEAT THE STORY, IF YOU WERE LISTENING TO THE GOSPEL YOU WILL REMEMBER THAT JESUS SAYS TO THE MEN WHO INTENDED TO EXECUTE THE WOMAN:

“LET HE WHO IS WITHOUT SIN CAST THE FIRST STONE”

I HAVE TWO FRIENDS WHO ARE BROTHERS. THEY ARE NOW IN THEIR MID 50’S. THEY WERE VERY CLOSE GROWING UP BUT AS IS USUAL THEY DRIFTED APART AS THEY GOT OLDER. FAMILY LIFE CALLED ON BOTH OF THEM TO GIVE ALL THAT THEY HAD TO MAINTAIN AND PROVIDE FOR THEIR FAMILIES. SO, AS THE YEARS PASSED THEY DRIFTED MORE AND MORE APART.

SO AT ONE OF THESE FAMILY OCCASIONS, THE TWO BROTHERS DECIDED TO GO ON A SORT OF BONDING HOLIDAY AND PRILGRIMAGE TO ITALY.

WHEN THEY WERE IN ROME THEY WENT INTO ST PETERS BASILICA. SOME OF OUR FIFTH YEARS VISITED THE BASILICA RECENTLY.

WHEN THEY WERE IN ST PETERS, ONE OF THE BROTHERS FELT AN URGENT NEED TO GO TO CONFESSION. HE HADN’T BEEN TO CONFESSION FOR OVER 25 YEARS BUT HE HAD THIS OVERWHELMING DESIRE TO GO. HE WENT IN TO ONE OF THE CONFESSIONAL BOXES. HE WAS ONLY THERE A MINUTE WHEN THE PRIEST TOLD HIM HE DIDN’T CONSIDER HE WAS MAKING A GENUINE CONFESSION. THAT HE WAS USING CONFESSION AS PART OF HIS LIST OF THE THINGS TO DO IN WHILE BEING A TOURIST IN ROME.

AT THIS MY FRIEND WAS SO UPSET THAT HE LEFT THE CONFESSIONAL. WHEN HE TOLD HIS BROTHER WHAT HAD HAPPENED  – HIS BROTHER IN TURN CONFRONTED THE PRIEST AND IT WAS THEN THAT THINGS GOT QUITE HEATED.

AT THIS STAGE A YOUNG PRIEST EMERGED FROM A NEARBY CONFESSIONAL AND THE LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT WAS THAT THE YOUNGER MAN APOLOGISED FOR THE OLDER PRIEST’S BEHAVIOUR. HE HEARD MY FRIEND’S CONFESSION AND ALL WAS WELL. WELL SORT OF.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE IN THE WAY JESUS TREATS THE WOMAN IN TODAY’S GOSPEL THAN THE WAY MY FRIEND WAS TREATED BY THAT PRIEST.

JESUS DOES NOT JUDGE OR CONDEMN HER.

BUT HE DOESN’T JUST LEAVE IT AT THAT. HIS FINAL WORDS TO HER ARE:

“GO AND FROM NOW ON SIN NO MORE”

THAT IS THE GREAT CHALLENGE FOR ALL OF US – TO SIN NO MORE.

THIS STORY IN TODAY’S GOSPEL FOR ME IS THE GREATEST ADVERTISEMENT FOR THE SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION.

JESUS HAS LEFT US THIS SACRAMENT SO THAT IF AND WHEN WE DO SIN JESUS DOES INDEED FORGIVE US OUR TRANSGRESSIONS AND ENTREATS US ALWAYS “TO SIN NO MORE”.

CONFESSION IS SUCH A WONDERFUL GIFT FROM GOD AND WHEN WE CONFESS OUR SINS WE ARE GIVEN A GRACE AND EVEN A JOY WITHOUT COMPARE.

 

 

 

Subscribe To Our Newsletter To Receive Updates