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4/7/19 Fifth Sunday in Lent - Deacon Tony

Deacon Tony Conti

Fifth Sunday of Lent
Lectionary: 36

  • In today’s Gospel, we find Jesus confronted by the angry mob…
  • They were not only eager to condemn and punish the woman caught in adultery... but they were even more eager to catch Jesus defying the Mosaic Law...
  • But Jesus turns the tables on them and asks them to look into the mirror of their souls…
  • When we can finally see and admit our own shortcomings; that’s when we can begin to appreciate the wisdom of God, as the crowd did in today’s gospel…
  • The crowd was initially convinced that they’re merely seeking justice under the law... but achieving justice under the law was not what Jesus was interested in…  
  • The world’s concept of justice is retributive; it relies upon inflicting punishment on the guilty…
  • God’s justice is restorative – It restores what was lost through sin and tragedy… and is exercised through forgiveness, and compassion and mercy...
  • Jesus responded to the woman in the courtyard as the Father of the Prodigal Son responded to his long lost son in last week’s gospel...
  • He wasn’t interested in retribution… He was interested in restoration...
  • The trying experiences of the prodigal son and the compassion of his Father restored him...
  • The shame of the woman caught in adultery and the resulting compassion that Jesus showed her, restored her as well...
  • We cannot find forgiveness, and compassion and mercy for others, unless we ourselves have experienced pain, and shame and suffering in our own lives...
  • We cannot find forgiveness, and compassion and mercy for others in our strengths... We can only find them in our weaknesses and in our mistakes...
  • Someone once noted: “Seeing first one’s own defects and shortcomings is Humility; the fruit of which is Tolerance...” (The Spirituality of Imperfection; Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham, Pg. 196)
  • Tolerance is not a vice – It’s a virtue...
  • We live today in an “all or nothing” world – A world of “absolutes...”
  • Many today often practice what has been referred to as categorical thinking – Something is either good or it’s bad… issues are either black or white
  • This type of thinking is popular because it’s easy – It requires very little information, and very little effort to arrive at a conclusion...
  • Tolerance is born from our struggles in life – It reminds us that we are imperfect creatures…
  • It helps us to respond to issues, rather than react to them as the crowd did in today’s gospel...
  • Tolerance doesn’t mean having an “anything goes attitude” in life... It means that we try to objectively understand a situation from all perspectives, before forming an opinion...
  • Tolerance leaves room for the “gray areas” of life… and if we are honest with ourselves - Life is full of gray areas
  • Like the crowd who condemned the woman - We need to look at ourselves first... facing our own brokenness, before focusing upon someone else’s...
  • We’re all, at various times in our lives, like the woman caught in adultery... dejected, humiliated, and condemned by the world...
  • When we‘ve fallen, when we’re down… when we’ve made a grave error: We don’t need more condemnation… and we don’t need more pain
  • What we need are forgiveness, compassion, and mercy from someone who has suffered as well
  • Where we may see the need for punishment... God sees the need for healing and restoration...
  • Punishment can never bring healing and restoration... Only forgiveness and compassion and mercy can accomplish that...
  • These are some of the lessons that the scriptures are trying to teach us as our Lenten journey draws to a close…
  • Life is full of ups and downs… suffering and redemption are an integral part of every life…
  • God isn’t interested in our punishment – He’s interested in our growth
  • Suffering and redemption are how we grow in life…
  • Last week’s parable of the prodigal son and today’s parable of the woman caught in adultery are both stories of suffering and redemption
  • And this is the essence of the Paschal Mystery
  • The mystery of Jesus’ life death and resurrection… the mystery that we commemorate during Lent and Easter…
  • The basic tenets of Christianity can be taught...
  • But the real essence of Christianity must be experienced... it must be lived in the messiness of our daily lives in order for its lessons to transform us
  • The suffering and redemption of the paschal mystery is the story of every life
  • I’ll close with a quote from Father Ronald Rolheiser who wrote: “…The paschal mystery… is a process of transformation within which we are given both new life and new spirit.  It begins with suffering and death, moves on to the reception of new life, spends some time grieving the old and adjusting to the new, and finally, only after the old life has been let go of, is new spirit given for the life we are already livingThe paschal mystery is the secret to life.” (The Holy Longing; Pg 147; 148)

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