Homily for 5th Sunday of Lent year C 2013
If we found a crumpled, even slightly torn off five-dollar note on the road, why do we take it. By the look at it, it seems not pleasant at all. It might be soiled but still if no one is looking, we would readily pick it up, well I am speaking for myself now.
We do pick up dollar note no matter how badly it has become not because of its appearance but because of its value, because of its worth. We can still use it. We can buy something out of it despite its appearance because of its real worth.
This is more or less the same message that Jesus wanted to express in our gospel today. He wants to show us that there is more to us than just following the what the law tells us to do. There is more to the person than just looking at what he or she has done or has failed to do.
The Pharisees and the Scribes wouldn’t realize this because they didn’t really care for the woman at all. They were not concerned of her at all. They just took advantage of her humble and unfortunate situation to further their own self-interests and to realize their plot to get rid of Jesus. They wanted to have their way done in their favour, no matter whose life it may need to sacrifice. All they are interested to hear was Jesus’s answer to their case, and for them, so they thought, there is no way out for Jesus. He has to say YES or NO. And for both answer they have already made up an accusation against him. If Jesus said ‘no’, they’d say he’s breaking the law of Moses. If he said ‘yes’, then many of those following him would immediately stop following him because his YES would betray his claim of a loving, forgiving and a compassionate Father.
But Jesus didn’t like what they are up to. He knew they had lost sight of the reality of the situation. So he had to remind them that he looked at the person as he/she is, not on what he/she has or has done. He has seen that the woman was helpless and thus needing his help, his mercy, his forgiveness. He also has seen that all the people around him, the Pharisees and the scribes included had to be directed back to the real perspective.
He did that quite subtly yet powerfully. He didn’t make any judgment over anyone or over the woman. He seemed to have done this by saying like this: ‘Come on people, there’s life at stake here…and you are still thinking of your own self, of your personal interests, of your distorted understanding of the law of God. Look at the person, not on what he or she does or has failed to do.’ What he did was challenging everyone to have a life check and a lifestyle check. So he said: “If there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’ That caught the Pharisees and the scribes by surprise. They didn’t expect that answer from Jesus. They lost the case, so they left. Of course, the might have realized how narrow-minded they were. And Jesus gave the woman another chance to live.
However, this episode must not lead us to think that Jesus just takes sin lightly. In fact, he is serious about it. He even died on the cross for all our sins and for us sinners. What he did rather here is to show us that if we humble ourselves before him, acknowledge our sins, come to him as we are, he would not only forgive us but he also would give us another chance to live and take on life, and even promised us of eternal life.
And this is the beauty of our saviour. He knows that because of pride we tend to focus more on ourselves. Yet, he always gives us another chance. He always looks at our real value and worth despite everything we do and have. But we need to listen to him. We need to respond to his invitation to renew our relationship with him especially when we break it through sinning.
This beautiful and wonderful God has also come into the life of St Paul. He met him on the way. Again, in St Paul God didn’t look at his background or what he did. He looked at his inner goodness, which is his fidelity to the commandments of the Jews. Jesus only had to re-direct him to be faithful to his mission of proclaiming Christ to all the world. Today’s second reading is an example of this. So we heard St Paul exclaimed: “For him I have accepted the loss of everything, and I look on everything as so much rubbish if only I can have Christ and be given a place in him.” St Paul realized that Christ is his supreme advantage because he died for all of us and for each one of us to live. For Christ, and even St Paul would agree with me in here, we are worth dying for.
So as we continue our Lenten journey, let us have a life check and lifestyle check. Are we living according to our real worth and value that God has put on us? Are we seeing others as they are (with all their flaws and imperfections) as Christ sees them? We have to realize that no matter how sinful or bad we are, God sees us in our real worth, which cost him dearly of his blood. So then, let us endeavour to appreciate the gifts that God has given us everyday without us even asking for them. Let us also begin, if not continue to see others the way Christ sees them, to bring Christ to others and to bring others to Christ. Amen.