March 13, 2016

5th Sun. of Lent

March 13, 2016:  Fifth Sunday of Lent

  • 'Chariot' and 'horse' tie pins:  The Lord leads out chariots and horsemen (1st reading)
  • Blue shirt:  I make rivers in the wasteland (1st reading)
  • 'Highways' tie:  "In the desert I make a way" (1st reading)
  • 'Lion' pin:  "Wild beasts honor me" (1st reading)
  • 'Runner' tie pin:  I strain forward to pursue the prize of God's call (2nd reading)
  • 'Stone' tie pin:  "Let the one without sin cast the first stone" (gospel)
  • Purple suspenders:  Lenten season

For the psalm
For 2nd reading
For next Sunday 
Pope Francis
Happy 3rd anniversary!
Angelus:  From misery to mercy:  The story of the adulterous woman highlights the theme of the mercy of God, who never wants the death of the sinner but wants them to convert and live.
Imagine you're witnessing the scene of Jesus, the woman, and the crowd who want her stoned.  The crowd didn't come to the Master to ask his opinion but to trap him.  When Jesus responds, "Let him without sin cast the first stone," this displaces and disarms the accusers; they leave aware of their sins.  We need to be aware of our sins and have the courage to drop the stones we aim.
After everyone leaves, it's just the woman and Jesus:  misery and mercy facing each other.  It's like when we're in the confessional filled with shame; we see our own misery and we ask for forgiveness.  This woman represents us all, sinners, adulterers before God, traitors of his loyalty.  Her experience is God's will for us:  not condemnation, but salvation through Jesus.
Papal preacher Fr. Cantalamessa's 4th Lenten sermon, continued from yesterday
An ideal to rediscover
It's our duty to live the biblical ideal of marriage and family so that our example reintroduces it into the world.  Since Christ, we read the account of the creation of the man and woman in light of the Trinity.  “In his own image he created them male and female” reveals meaning that was unclear before Christ.  What's the connection between God's image and “male and female”?  God is love, and love requires communion and communication, “I” and “you.”  Love has to be for someone.  When God is conceived of only as Law or Power, there's no need for more than one person.  The God revealed by Jesus Christ, Love, is unique but not solitary; he's one and triune, unity of nature, will, and intentions, and distinction of characteristics and persons.
When people love each other, they reproduce something of what occurs in the Trinity, where Father and Son in loving each other produce (“breathe”) the Spirit, the love that unites them.  Someone defined the Spirit as the divine “We,” not “the third person” but the first person plural.  In this way a human couple is the image of God:  they're one flesh, heart, and soul but diverse in sex and personality, reconciling unity and diversity.  Thus we discover the prophets' message:  marriage is a symbol and reflection God's love for his people, revealing the face and purpose of creation of male and female.
Why the sense of incompleteness sex leaves?  People try to remedy the frustration but end up increasing it.  Instead of improving the act's quality, they increase its quantity, going from one partner to another, ruining God’s gift.  The explanation for this dysfunction is that sex isn't happening like God intended, to raise the couple to a foretaste of the infinite love they're headed to.  Sin has damaged his plan, profaning sex, stripping it of its religious value, making it an end in itself, closed in, thus unsatisfying.  The symbol has been disconnected from the reality behind it, deprived of its dynamism, crippled.  “Our heart is restless until it rests in you” (Augustine)  We were created to live in an eternal relationship with God; even Faust discovers this:  thinking back to his love for Margaret, he exclaims, “All that's transitory is only a symbol; what seems unachievable here is seen done [in heaven]” (Goethe)
In the testimony of couples renewed in the Spirit, we find something of sex's original significance.  Marriage is the sacrament of a reciprocal gift spouses give each other, and the Spirit is the “gift” within the Trinity, the reciprocal “self-giving” of Father and Son, not as an isolated act but a permanent state.  Where the Spirit comes, the capacity to give oneself is born or rekindled.; this is how the “grace of the married state” operates.  (concluded tomorrow)
  • Is 43:16-21  The Lord opens a way in the sea and snuffs out a powerful army.  Don't remember past events; I'm doing something new!  I put water in the desert for my chosen to drink, that they might announce my praise.
  • Ps 126:1-6  "The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy."  When the Lord brought back the captives of Zion, we were filled with laughter and joy.  Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
  • Phil 3:8-14  I consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ.  For his sake I've accepted the loss of everything and consider it rubbish, that I may gain Christ, having only the righteousness that comes through faith in him.  I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess the resurrection from the dead since Christ has taken possession of me.  I forget what lies behind and strain forward to pursue the goal, God’s upward calling, in Christ.
  • Jn 8:1-11  Scribes and Pharisees brought Jesus a woman caught in adultery:  Moses commanded us to stone such women.  What do you say?”  They were testing him to get a charge to bring against him.  Jesus began to write on the ground with his finger, but when they persisted, he told them, “Let the one of you without sin cast the first stone.”  They went away one by one.  When he and the woman were alone together, he asked her, Has no one condemned you?...  Neither do I.  Go, and sin no more.”
Bonus (in line with today's gospel)

St. Bede parish mission

2-18-16 (but just posted) 

    • Creighton:  Today's readings are about starting over.  We have an infinite number of chances when we seek God’s love.  We stray but can always find the path again.  We don't have to earn his love.  When we turn to God, we can ask forgiveness, be forgiven, and become a clean slate.  When I feel judgmental, I need to remember, "Let the one without sin cast the first stone."  God will welcome me as I am.  May I return to God every day, every hour....
      La donna adultera/ Guercino
    • One Bread, One Body:  "The Victim-Victor":  Jesus saved an adulteress from execution, doing nothing for the victims of her sin-crime, the broken hearts, traumatized families, the further warped moral climate.  His mercy to her seems unjust, even merciless, to her victims.  When he was crucified, however, he assured justice and mercy for all victims by atoning for sin, healing broken hearts, restoring families, and transforming society.  Jesus, ultimate Victim, gave justice and mercy, love and life, to all victims and victimizers, innocent and guilty.
    • Passionist:  The previous chapter gives helpful context for today's gospel.  Some were suggesting Jesus might be a Prophet or even the Messiah, but the crowd was divided; some wanted to arrest him, perhaps to quash his disturbance of the status quo.  Now they want to test/trap him.  The woman is also a victim; where's the man?  The law states both man and woman shall be put to death.  Jesus finally invites the one without sin to cast the first stone.  Many believe this story is more about non-condemnation than forgiveness; the Pharisees left after Jesus made them aware of their own darkness.  Isaiah tells the Israelites God is doing something new, sending rivers through the wastelands.  Jesus came to save, not condemn, the adulteress; to fulfill, not abolish, the law.  The leaders don't see the newness; they may feel threatened.  He offers compassion to the woman and invites her to go and sin no more.  Our pursuits can derail us and lead us to decisions not in line with our values, even if we can rationalize them.  It's up to us to quench out sin as God did, as Paul focused on Christ and being possessed by him, leaving all else behind.
      Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery/ Brueghel
    •  "Go, and don't sin again":  God's mercies are new every day.  He can set us free from whatever binds us; he always brought freedom to the oppressed.  When religious leaders confronted him about retribution for the adulteress, he challenged them.  Adultery was punishable by death; it violated God’s ordinance and wreaked havoc on marriage and family life. It was one of the three gravest sins punishable by death.  They wanted to condemn; he to forgive and to restore to health.  Jesus gave her pardon and a new start.  God’s grace enables us to confront sin for what it is, then repent and give thanks....

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