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03/13/16 Fifth Sunday of Lent - Deacon Tony

Deacon Tony Conti

Fifth Sunday of Lent

  • Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle…”
  • We’re all aware of Jesus’ admonitions throughout the Gospels not to judge…
  • So why did the crowd judge and condemn the woman in today’s Gospel?
  • If we asked them we would no doubt hear the familiar cry for justice to be done
  •  But whose justice do we want – The world’s justice, or God’s justice… Because there’s a big difference
  • We most often equate justice with punishment… to the point that the two words have almost become synonymous…
  • Unlike the crowd in today’s Gospel… For God: Justice and Mercy are inextricably linked
  • It’s most certainly true, that our God is a God of Justice – But when we think of justice – We most often think of retributive justice…
  • Justice based upon the concept of retribution, or punishment - “An eye for an eye type of justice…”
  • God’s justice is not retributive, it’s restorative…
  • Only God can make right, something that has gone terribly wrong… Restorative justice doesn’t inflict pain or punishment, but instead; restores the grace and the good that was lost through sin and tragedy…
  • Isn’t that what we witnessed in today’s Gospel?
  • Jesus knew the hearts of the Pharisees, just as well as He knew the shame, the sin, and the hurt of the woman left standing alone in the midst of the crowd...
  • Jesus says to the woman: “Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, sir.”  Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.  Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”
  • When Jesus announced these words to the woman, how do you think she felt?
  • She experienced Healing - Her shame and guilt were gone – She had been forgiven by the Master…
  • Justice must always be accompanied by mercy… or it becomes nothing more than cruelty in disguise
  • When we look at the Cross what do we see?
  • Do we see God’s sacrifice which frees us from the bondage of sin and death and restores us to the fullness of eternal life…
  • Or do we merely see society’s retribution and unjust punishment of an innocent man, with no redeeming value…
  • The Cross doesn’t represent retribution and punishment – It represents the restoration of our relationship with God, through the free and loving sacrifice of His Son...
  • When we fail to be merciful… when we fail to see the humanity in others… (even those trying to harm us)… That’s when we ourselves can lose our humanity and allow evil to overtake us and to eventually consume us
  • Like the woman in today’s Gospel - Jesus longs to make us new through the Sacrament of Reconciliation
  • But first we must pass through the desertwe must stand in the midst of the crowd as did the womanwe must come face to face with our shortcomings, and seek healing and forgiveness in this Sacrament of Mercy
  • In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Jesus says to each of us, as he said to the woman in today’s Gospel: “Has no one condemned you?”…Then… “Neither do I condemn you.  Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”
  • This world values strength and power, and wealth...
    • Love values the weak, the vulnerable, and the poor...
  • This world encourages us to take more and more and more...
    • Love requires us to give... to give of our time, our resources, and our talents to those in need...
  • This world believes that only the strong have a right to survive...
    • Love believes that everyone deserves the gift of life...
  • This world teaches us that justice must be achieved at any cost...
    • Love teaches us that we must go beyond justice to mercy...
  • Rabbi David Thomas wrote: “The world cannot stand without justice, but it cannot live without mercy and compassion either.  So it is with us.  So, when the scales of justice hang in the balance, and you have the power to tip them right or left, which way will you have them fall?”  (Congregation Beth El, Sudbury, MA)

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