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Monday, 7 March 2016

Reflection/Homily: Fifth (5th) Sunday of Lent Year C

Theme: The Power of Divine Friendship

The history of the Israelites was punctuated with several ups and downs. After the Babylonian exile, they had to begin life afresh with little or no hope. It was difficult for them to hope for a brighter future because they had lost their friendship with God. God restored this friendship by promising them restoration and hope. In the first reading (Is. 43:16-21), we see this promise of restoration and hope. He urged the Israelites to forget the past because He was doing a new thing in their lives.

In the gospel reading (Jn. 8:1-11), we see a practical example of God’s promise of hope and restoration in the life of the adulterous woman. After being caught in adultery and seeing the people’s readiness to stone her to death, she lost every hope of survival until Jesus intervened. By that sinful act, she lost her friendship with her family, with the society and with God but Jesus became the fulfillment of God’s promise to do a new thing in her life – to restore this lost friendship.
 Today, God also addresses this message to us in a special way. Through the first reading, He reminds us of the wonders He had done in the history of humanity and invites us to trust Him based on these testimonies. This invitation is a call to repentance, to abandon and forget our old and evil ways of life and embrace a new and better way of life.

As we approach the Holy Week, this divine invitation becomes more urgent. Perhaps, we may have wished to remain sinless this Lenten season but unfortunately fell into one mortal sin or the other and we think all hope is gone. Perhaps, we may have been unfaithful to our Lenten observance all this while and we feel it is too late trying to do something positive now, Jesus is offering us a new and unique opportunity just as he offered the adulterous woman. We have to make a new resolution as he is doing something new in our lives.

This period is a special period of grace, a period of restoration of divine friendship and a period of hope. It is also a period of preparation for that great event that reconciled the friendship between God and man. This is a period in which God is exposing the unlimited nature of His love, the magnanimity of His grace and the inexhaustibility of His gifts. Like St. Paul would say, “Now is the favourable time of salvation” (cf. 2 Cor. 6:2) because at this period, the mercy of God is at its peak, the theology of reconciliation is being proclaimed and the power of divine friendship is made manifest in man.

At this favourable time of salvation, the Church invites us to make good use of the available opportunities and graces God is offering us to get reconciled to Him. At the peak of God’s mercy, the Church reminds us of the availability of God’s forgiveness and mercy even when we are obviously guilty. Through the theology of reconciliation, the Church teaches us ways to reconcile with God. All these are made possible through the friendship God is offering us in Jesus Christ.

Beloved friends, like the adulterous woman, we have been unfaithful in several ways. Some of us have been unfaithful to our marital vows, the promises we made at ordination/profession, the moral obligations binding us as Christians and even to our social responsibilities as citizens of a state. The greatest danger of infidelity is its ability to destroy relationships and friendships. Thus, our infidelity has frustrated our relationship and friendship with our spouses, friends, relations, the Church and God. Like the adulterous woman too, we have a lot of persons and things accusing us to make sure we are severely punished. But Jesus has come to deliver us from all these. This deliverance is a part of the new thing God is doing for us.

Therefore, as we approach the Holy Week, let us use this opportunity to renew our friendship with Jesus who came to die that we might be saved. Let us be conscious of Christ’s injunction “go and sin no more.” As a final word, let us not forget to follow the examples of St. Paul in the second reading (Phil. 3:8-14) who regarded everything as lost compared to friendship with God. Like him, let us then forget the past and run towards the goal God has called us for in Christ Jesus. God loves you.

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