Saturday, March 12, 2016

March 13, 2016: 5th Sunday of Lent C

March 13, 2016: 5th Sunday of Lent C

Click to hear Audio Homily
Have you ever been to a perfect mass? Perhaps the choir was pitch perfect, the lectors read impeccably, the priest’s homily was outstanding, the sign of peace was truly sincere because no one in the congregation had any grievances against another, and everyone going to communion had no mortal sins in their hearts. Have you ever been to such a mass?

Which brings us to ask, ‘What makes a perfect mass?’ Recently, St. Aloysius hosted a morning mass where all the liturgical ministers were children with various disabilities. The altar servers had Down syndrome or autism; they didn’t process in a straight line nor were they in sync. The lectors each had a  disability; when a couple of them approached the podium, they froze until an adult went up to assure them it was okay. A gift bearer with Down syndrome almost dropped the host as she brought up the gift. Perhaps our culture considers these children as imperfect and lacking in so many ways. Yet, how does God see these children and that special mass which was not what we may think as perfect? Was God pleased with these children at mass? Those children with their imperfections offered the perfect mass, because of their childlike faith and trust.
Is God pleased when we show up to mass--we who are imperfect in a different way--distracted and committed numerous sins during the week?

In today’s Gospel, the scribes and pharisees brought a woman who committed a serious sin of adultery to Jesus to determine her punishment, for the Jewish law stated that a person caught in adultery was to be stoned to death. Perhaps for this woman, her sin was a misguided search for love. Yet the scribes and pharisees were using the sinful woman as a bait to trap Jesus, a far more grave sin. 

What is our reaction when we find out that someone has committed a serious sin? Is it compassion or judgment? The first reaction to someone’s fall should be pity--the feeling of sorrow and compassion caused by the suffering and misfortunes of others. As for judgment, that is not left to us, for Jesus said, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37). So Jesus said to the scribes and pharisees, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Our Lord was addressing a common fault that lies in all of us--many of us demand standards from others that we never even try to meet ourselves; and so many of us condemn faults in other which are glaringly obvious in our own lives. One by one, the crowd left without explanation, until there was no one left but the woman and Jesus.

Jesus then said to the woman, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.” He was not excusing her sin; rather He was showing her mercy and forgiveness. For every sin, there is high cost involved which affects lives and properties of others. When we walk out of the confessional, we do not leave with a presumption that we can sin again. Rather, we walk out with a renewed hope that with God’s grace, we will amend for the wrong we have done, and we will sin no more. Yet should we sin again, we should humble ourselves and go back to Jesus in confession for His mercy.

The Good News of Jesus Christ is that God doesn’t forgive us because we’re so good but because He is so good; that He forgives us not because we deserve it but because we desperately need it. The Good News is that God’s ways are not our ways. God isn’t attracted to our gifts, virtues, and talents. But rather His love flows toward the lowest place--toward those who are little, poor, weak, broken, and sinful. This is the very definition of mercy.

We with a different kind of imperfection can also offer God a perfect mass with our humble, childlike trust. God is immensely pleased because our childlike trust opens the floodgates to His infinite mercy. God’s Heart is always moved by our humble acknowledgment of our littleness.
-Fr. Paul Yi