HOMILY FOR THE FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT, YEAR C (MAR 13)
Bishop of Holy Trinity Diocese and St. Andrew’s Cathedral Parish
The Catholic Apostolic Church in North America (CACINA)
There is very definitely a theme running through all of our readings today which might be proclaimed as: Forget what’s happened in the past and look to the future! When Jesus has managed to dismiss all the naysayers who wanted to kill the woman caught in adultery, he is left alone with her. In a confessional moment, Jesus apparently forgives her past sins and has her look to the future: Go and sin no more.
We get similar moments in the other three readings. In the reading from Isaiah God is speaking and he is telling his people not to bother even remembering the exodus from Egypt and the miracles in the desert because in the future God is going to do even more remarkable things for them. He tells them to rejoice in that thought. Put the past behind them and look to a bright future.
Our Psalmist re-iterates: in the past they were mourners who sowed in tears and went out weeping, but in the present and future they go home rejoicing, coming home with full grown sheaves of wheat.
St. Paul, too, says that he does only one thing: he forgets what lies behind and he strains forward to what lies ahead.
For us too, it does not matter what has happened to us in the past – great suffering, death of loved ones, poverty, fear, abandonment. If we keep the faith realizing that we are partakers and sharers of the Passion of Christ, we can put all that behind us, forget the past, and concentrate on the final goal of Paradise and the joys that will come between that and our death. If we keep the faith of Christ, we might still not have a great life or we may have abundant joys, but we know…we know..in the end by having kept the faith that we will gain eternal life with God, the only true happiness, the only complete happiness. And this is what Lent has been all about: preparing us not so much for the cross but for what comes after the cross.
Jesus just like us, suffered and died. He knows what it is to feel pain, isolation, loneliness, the death of friends, hatred by others, anything we feel – he was fully human. But he experienced also the Resurrection with a new and improved body, oneness with God and the satisfaction that he had saved all of us.
By identifying ourselves with Jesus, by fully realizing he understands us and suffers with us, we bring ourselves through the self-evaluations of Lent, turn ourselves around and come out the other side.
Pope Francis has declared this a year of grace for Roman Catholics and I don’t see why we can’t tap into that as well. The message is clear and similar to this morning. God loves us and will forgive us anything. We just have to repent, say we are sorry and go on loving him. That is the gift of amazing grace that he gives. We can put behind anything with that grace and look to a brighter future, a resurrection of sorts in each one of us.
Next Sunday we begin the most solemn week of the church year. On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the kingship of Jesus, followed immediately by readings of his death. On Thursday we celebrate the last supper that he had with his friends where he ordained his priests and gave us the sacrament of unity and love, then when out to his death. On Friday, we look solely at that death and the suffering it entailed, but from the Easter Vigil through Easter Mass we leave the pains of childbirth behind, and look to the new creation. May you follow the journey with the understanding of yourself you have gained this Lent, awareness of the need others have of you to be present and compassionate and loving, and why you need to celebrate together so that on Easter morning we may truly sing out with joy: The Lord has done great things for us – we are filled with gladness and joy. This is the Good News the readings offer you this last Sunday of Lent.