YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 5TH SUNDAY OF LENT YR C.
HOMILY THEME: “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
BY: Fr. Clem C. Aladi.
HOMILY: GOSPEL: JOHN 8:1-11
God does not forgive evil but the individual, and he teaches us to distinguish the evil act, which as such must be condemned, from the person who has committed it, to whom he offers the possibility of changing – John Paul II
My dearest Children of God we are here on this fifth Sunday of Lent to experience that mercy and compassion of God and to share our the blessings by forgiving and showing mercy to others who have offended us or gone astray.
Today’s readings challenge us to show mercy to the sinners around us and to live as forgiven people, actively seeking reconciliation with God and with one another. The central theme of all three readings is a merciful God’s, steadfast love. The readings remind us that we should not be self-righteous and condemn the lives of others when God is calling them tenderly to conversion.
Explaining how a merciful God forgives the sins of His chosen people and leads them back from the Babylonian exile, the first reading reminds us that we too are forgiven, and we are saved from our own sinfulness.
In the second reading, Paul presents himself as a forgiven sinner who has been completely transformed by his Faith in Christ Jesus. His life is an example of the Gospel exhortation, “Sin no more.” Paul loves Christ so much he wants to share in His sufferings and even in His death so that he may share Christ’s Resurrection.
The sinful woman’s story of sin committed, and sin forgiven in today’s Gospel shows the inexhaustible mercy and compassion Jesus gives to repentant sinners. In addition, by making sinlessness the condition for throwing the first stone, Jesus forces the accusers to assess their own souls and to leave. Thus, He grants justice to the accusers and mercy to the sinful woman.
This story is so dramatic because those men ask Jesus to judge the sinful woman in order “to test him” and impel him to take a false step.In accordance with the prescriptions of the Book of Leviticus (cf. 20: 10),the woman caught in adultry was to be condemned by stoning. If Jesus absolves the woman it will be said that he has transgressed the precepts of Moses; if he condemns her, it will be said that he is inconsistent with his message of mercy towards sinners. Jesus was silent for a while to invite the accusers to self reflection before He asked the question that made them fall in their on trap. ” Jesus, in his response, neither failed to respect the law nor departed from his meekness” .- St. Augustine
In our own lives, we bear witness to the Justice of God by confessing our sinfulness and resolving to avoid sin, and we bear witness to God’s Mercy by accepting the forgiveness of our sins and promising to forgive those who have offended us.
Are we still throwing stones :
But why did not they throw stones at her? Perhaps each examined himself or herself and realized he or she has being a victim of such a sin or is still active in it. Isn’t it easy to throw stones at the accused when the accuser himself should first stone himself? “Stones” here are all the spicy gossips, condemnations, social media shares, and all unkind attitudes we met out to those who are victims of one sinful act or another. Do we still remember that a sinner deserves some fraternal love, correction and mercy? Why do you derive joy for instance, sharing pictures or videos of those who were caught in sinful acts on social media? Why do we even expose the sins of others on social media to bring public shame and disgrace upon them? This is the wickedness of this age of social media. If God should expose each of us, who would even raise his heads high. That you have not been caught and exposed does not make you a saint. All lizards are lying on their stomach no one knows which has a stomach ache the Igbos would say. We gain nothing by putting others to disrepute, we are all guilty and like the Pharisees who brought the woman, we are about stoning some people or have stoned many already. In as much we should condemn sin, we should also love the sinner as Christ does.
Aren’t you even the worst sinner? .
Do you still remember you are a sinner and no amount of self-righteous attitude will exonerate you from being one? So, why do you condemn others as though you were a saint? Do you know how much effort that sinner is making to come to conversion in Christ? Can we simply help to lift up those struggling with sinful habits than to condemn and take them down? You too would have been worst if not the grace of God. So treat follow sinners with love and compassion.
Christ came to reconcile us
When a sinner repents and sin no more, the family of God is healed from the wounds caused by the sin of that sinner. When we repent from our sins we are reconciled with God and reintegrated into the community of the faithful that we severed from by our sins. Sin weakens our bonds within the Christian community but repentance and reconciliation heals and strengthens it. Christ came to heal the wounds of our brokenness, we should also strive to heal each other by our compassionate and merciful hearts. Each person is of great value to the society and to the Christian family, no one should be written off, condemned, ostracised or neglected . When we value each other, we show mercy and love. When we show mercy and love, we heal our brokenness. The Church is an agent of healing in the world. The sacrament of Penance heals and restores. Be an agent of healing and not of condemnation; that is what our Christian calling requires.
Sin no more; that is what God desires from us
It is not an impossible thing, a sinner can become a saint. St. Paul use to be a persecutor but the grace of God transformed him. Are you still living in self-deception that you cannot drop that sinful habit or immoral lifestyle? Jesus intervened and saved the life of that poor woman who would have been stoned to death, and that is exactly the same way He intervened and saved us with His body on the cross. The grace of repentance has been lavished on us, such that were sin abound, grace abounds much more. But shall we continue to sin because grace abounds? ( cf. Rom 6:1) This is time to look inwards and stone our sinful emotions, to condemn our sinful habits and ask for God’s mercy.
Jesus did not condemn her, so don’t condemn others
In whatever condition we find ourselves, we can always open ourselves to conversion and receive forgiveness for our sins. “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again” (Jn 8: 11).
God is certainly doing something new in our lives as we heard in the first reading. Let us leave behind the former life of sinfulness: abortion, drug addiction, calumny, gossip, envy, pride, injustice, drunkenness, prodigality, prostitution, sexual sins, etc.
and give God a chance. Like St. Paul’s let’s count everything as a loss and embrace the love and knowledge of God who saves .
In this mass may God fill us more with the grace of sincere repentance and mercy to others.
I keep you and your family always in my prayers.
Fr. Clem C. Aladi.