YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 5TH SUNDAY OF LENT
HOMILY THEME: THE STORY IS DIFFERENT WITH GOD.
BY: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
HOMILY: Our human condition leaves us within the three coordinates of time; the past, the present and the future. In the past we recognise who we were, in the future we see who we can become and in the present we live who we are. Irrespective of how our past may have been, the present provides us with the greatest opportunities to either consolidate the progress in our past or to change to brighter paths that lead to success as to build the future of our dreams and hopes. In all of these transitions, it is God Who is at work in us by the power of His graces and mercy, leading us out of darkness into the splendour of His wonderful Light. May our encounter with God today and in the remaining days of this Season of Lent change our history and story for good; Amen.
There is nobody whose past is without a chain of successes and progresses and happy moments of life which makes us feel the impact of our lives in the society in which we live. Also, there is nobody whose past is without stains of failures and regrets which are signs of our human limited condition. Part of the greatest problems we have is the tendency to be pessimistic about life that leaves us sometimes to see and exaggerate only the ugly aspects of ourselves and of those around us that we fail to see the good in us and in others; we conclude and place labels about our future and the future of our brothers and sisters because of the mistakes of our past lives. The truth is that the story is different with God. God knows our past in its entirety. He also knows the endless possibilities He has in store for us and He gives us the grace of the present to work towards a new future with Him and in Him. The ugly part of our past can never end the possibility of a new future for us. The only coordinate of time that has that power is the present. And as often as we have a present is as often as we have the possibility to build a new future for ourselves, irrespective of how dark our past may have been. This is also most true in our relationship with God! Through His mercy which knows no bounds, God cancels our past failures and strengthens us to become victors in the battles of life and in the war against sin.
This was the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery, who was brought to Jesus by the scribes and the Pharisees in the Gospel Reading of today (John 8:1-11). Surely, it was and always is an awful thing to break marital fidelity. But in their thinking, like some of us do, it is the end of the story for this woman. They forgot all of a sudden the rough edges of their past lives and how God continues to give them new opportunities to build a new life in Him. Jesus reminded them of their condition of life and subsequently launched the previously condemned woman into a new level of life by the power of mercy; “neither do I condemn you, go away and do not sin anymore.” This woman made an indelible experience of the power of Divine mercy. She must have realised that irrespective of her past, the greatest gift of the present that Divine mercy presented to her can change her future; and it sure did change it. The same experience of this woman we also heard in the form of a promise from God to the people of Israel in the First Reading (Is 43:16-21); “no need to recall the past, no need to think about what was done before. See, I am doing a new deed.” Of course, the story of the people of Israel can be considered as the story of ‘unmerited new opportunities.’ Saint Paul on his part, lived this experience in full as we read in the Second Reading (Phil 3:8-14); “all I can say is that I forget the past and I strain ahead for what is still to come; I am racing for the finish, for the prize to which God calls us upwards to receive in Christ Jesus.” This message comes to us today from two angles. Firstly, we must learn not to conclude on people. In as much as it is part of our Christian prophetic identity to condemn what is evil, we must always recognise the fact that nobody absolutely holds the future of another person. God can surprise us in many ways. Part of such ways could be to raise up in an unimaginable way someone we may have reduced to ashes through our human judgement and condemnation. Secondly, never allow anybody to bottle you in your past. Whatever may have happened belongs to the past, and every gift of the present we have is an opportunity to build a new life assisted by God’s grace because it is God Who gives us these opportunities. In all of these, one thing we must do is to cooperate always with the grace of God.
Heavenly Father, grant us the grace to transcend the limitations of the guilt of our past by a graceful living of the present so as to attain the future you plan for us; Amen.
Happy Sunday; Fr Cyril CCE