Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday word, 17 Mar 2013

Fresh Future
Lent Sunday5 (17 Mar 2013)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
The Collect of our mass asked divine help for us to walk eagerly in that same charity in which Jesus walked. I want to reflect with you on how today’s scriptures help us appreciate the charity of Jesus and what conspires to prevent us walking eagerly in it. First: Jesus in the gospel.

On one occasion the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in test Jesus. Adultery was a capital offense in the days of Jesus and long before him. We may overlook that the same scribes and Pharisees also decided something else when they tested Jesus: they made Jesus a judge. It is curious his opponents would yield to Jesus that way. In other words, those who opposed his ministry placed themselves under his authority.

Jesus was no stranger to opposition, especially from leaders of the several Jewish groups. He bought time, a very human thing to do in times of distraction or stressful decision making. You and I catch ourselves doodling in such moments. We often use paper and pencil. People in the ancient Mediterranean did not have paper, but they bought time by doodling, too. The ground was a convenient, reusable writing surface.

When he was ready to speak, Jesus surprised the scribes and the Pharisees. He did not disagree that the woman had acted against the law of Moses. He did not disagree with its punishment. Jesus did desire a person qualified to execute the sentence the law demanded. A qualified person would be one who would not be stoned under the law; so Jesus said: “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.

Jesus wrote on the ground the first time when he was confronted by the scribes and the Pharisees. Jesus wrote on the ground again: for whom? The woman caught in adultery. Imagine how she felt: exposed. Her accusers had made her stand in the middle. Her secret was no longer so. As she felt exposed, she also was trapped, confined by her trespass. It was all she saw for it blinded her to her accusers and to the goodness in which she, you and I are created each moment.

We, too, are blinded, rattled and overwhelmed, even in good moments. Consider a tennis champion. In a match committing an unforced error rattles her from the top of her game to its basement. If she does not shake the error’s grip, she’ll not regain her rhythm. Without that rhythm she trained long to use, her opponent will best her. When we make harmful choices in our lives, we not only regret them. We often focus on our sinfulness and blind ourselves to the goodness in which we are created. Focusing on our sinfulness also jolts us from our graced rhythm. Our graced rhythm is not perfection. None of us has already attained perfect maturity. Our graced rhythm rests in letting Jesus embrace us and live in, with and through us.
Jesus again wrote on the ground to allow the woman to regain herself. That was possible for her because she was with Jesus. Jesus wrote on the ground again for you, for me and for all people. Jesus’ compassion buys us time: graced time to stop focusing on our harmful choices and instead to see ourselves in and with Jesus. Jesus allows us to see our goodness, his goodness in which he creates us each moment. By his Spirit Jesus frees us to forget what lies behind but strain forward to what lies ahead...[our] goal…[our Messiah]...Jesus.

Today’s gospel embodied those words of St. Paul with the story of a woman to whom Jesus gave a new beginning, a fresh future. Bringing ourselves nearer to Jesus and being honest with him help us begin anew and walk confidently into our futures as his friends and disciples.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Pause and rest in the Trinity.
  • Ask the woman Jesus forgave to present you to him. She who was with him knows well how to encourage us to be with him.
  • Speak with Jesus: tell him your need for interior healing we name forgiveness.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to focus on him not our sinfulness.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave us his prayer to help us focus on him then to match how we live with his forgiving way.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

Wiki-image of detail of Jesus and woman taken in adultery is in the public domain. Wiki-image by Unterillertaler of spring snowflake in wintry ground used by CC BY-SA 3.0.

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