Homilies

Mass for the fifth Sunday of Lent

MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY, 17 MARCH, 2013, AT 11.00 A.M. (Fifth Sunday of Lent)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
 
Once again the Scribes and Pharisees set a trap for Jesus, hoping to discredit him in the eyes of the people.  This meeting between Jesus and the woman caught in adultery is a prelude to the Passion because it is the first episode in the action against Jesus.  Yet Jesus is going to reveal his wonderful wisdom.  He knows all too well what is in people’s hearts; above all our readiness to pick out the speck in another’s eye while forgetting the beam that is in our own.
 
Lent is now well advanced and the Church invites us to come in true penitence to meet with the Lord.  The entrance song, Give me justice O God and defend my cause against the wicked.  You O God are my refuge, is a reminder that the one who does just deeds will be vindicated by God.
 
We would do well to think about the beautiful forgiveness of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and in the words of Isaiah, “No need to recall the past, no need to think about what was done before.”  (Isaiah 43:18)
 
In forgiving the woman Jesus did not do so lightly to say that her sin was of no consequence, but he did give her the opportunity to turn back to God and to sin no more.

At this stage in Lent we are invited to come to the beautiful Sacrament of Reconciliation knowing that we will be forgiven.
 
As we look at Jesus’ attitude towards the sinful woman, William Barclay in his commentary on this passage reminds us of a few things about forgiveness.
  1. It involves a second chance:  The gift of added time and the opportunity to live her life differently.  Jesus is concerned about what we can become rather than what we have been.
  2. Jesus is compassionate:  While others condemned and judged, Jesus sought to understand the weak.  He offered his strength and care.
  3. It involved challenge:  Jesus did not just dismiss the woman’s sin, but said, go and sin no more, to become the self that reflected most clearly the God in whose image she had been created.
  4. Jesus showed belief in human nature and the potential for goodness the woman had.  She had sinned, but in responsiveness to Jesus’ word and God’s grace she could become a saint.
  5. It involved warning.  This story reminds us that we stand beside the unnamed woman.  We are rightly accused of what are our besetting sins.  Do we accept the challenge that Jesus offers?  Do we dare to come away from Jesus and our Lenten encounter and live differently or not? 
 
Jesus says to us, as to the woman, go and sin no more.  One day we will have to account because the Lord has done great things for us.  What deeds will we do?
 
+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.
 
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