Friday, March 15, 2013

Homily 5th Sunday of Lent Year C: Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily 5th Sunday of Lent Year C: Michael U. Udoekpo
 Readings: Isa 43:16-21; Ps 126:1-6; Phil 3:8-14 and John 8:1-11

The redeeming Power of Jesus

Each day, when we look around we cannot but notice the power of God in our lives and in the Church. Few weeks ago, precisely on February 28 2013, when we heard the news of the renunciation of his petrine office, by our beloved Benedict XVI, the Pope emeritus, we were on our knees praying for him and for the gift of a new Pope. On Wednesday as we were all anxiously following the Conclave, God provided us with a new Vicar of Christ, Pope Francis. This reminds us that the Lord will never abandon his Church, though made up of saints and sinners. He has always been renewably watching over us, from the beginnings.

Today’s first reading from Isaiah 43:16-21, takes us back to this beginnings.  Israel’s sacred tradition of the exodus from Egypt (Exodus 17:1-7) is alluded to in this prophecy of Deutero Isaiah.  Isaiah prophecies, “Thus says the Lord, “who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, who brings out chariot an horse, army and warrior… I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” This testimony is nothing else, but that of a divine deliverance, of God’s people from Egypt and from the Babylonian exile. God is constantly watching over us, his people, and his church, at all times!

But these two events, the liberation of Israel from Egypt and from Babylonian exile have something in common. The destination of these freed people is towards the Promised Land, that Rest, which Katapusis, resurrection, eternal life, that God had promised his people, as for us, the resurrection which we anticipate at Easter.

The joy of this freedom is well expressed in the song of Psalm 126 that just flowed from our lips, few minutes:

“When the Lord brought back captives from Zion, it was like a dream, Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with great joy. Then they said among the nation, “the Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us; we were glad. Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the torrents in the southern desert. Those that sow in tears shall reap with joy. Although they go forth weeping, carrying the seed to be sown, they shall come back rejoicing, carrying their sheaves.”

What a great Psalm of joy. It acknowledges God’s watchfulness over us. It acknowledges God’s blessings and his acts of mercies both in the past, and a present. It appeals for the future, since we are pilgrims, sinners, who still have a long way to go!

Like the prodigal son in the last Sunday’s reading who found forgiveness and loving power of his father, in spite of the objection of his elder brother,  the woman in today’s gospel deserves not to be stoned to death, in spite of the insinuation of the Scribes and the Pharisees.. Though a sinner like us, she deserves forgiveness. She deserves to live, since there was not even a single fellow sinner (like us) who dared to throw a stone at her. Interestingly too, she acknowledges Jesus as the Sir, the Lord of love and the Master of forgiveness.

Paul also confesses how he considers everything a loss because of the supreme good of knowing this same Christ Jesus as his Lord of love and the source of eternal life. Paul also is still an imperfect pilgrim. He says,

“It is not that I have already taken hold of it (kingdom of God) or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it… Just one thing, forgetting what lies  behind, but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the ,goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus(Phil 3:8-14).

Each of us we are on a journey. We have not yet gotten there. We are on a metaphorical captivity in our own “Egypts” and “Babylons.” Our common goal is to journey back to God; to continue our pursuit back to Him. Whatever our own weaknesses and brokenness or captivities may be, we want to acknowledge the loving, the liberating, redeeming power of God in the events of the exodus and of the Babylonian exile. And we want to acknowledge the loving and forgiving gesture of Jesus, the type extended to the adulterous person in today’s Gospel. And if Jesus could forgive us, who are we then not to forgive our neighbors. If Jesus could be merciful to us, we want to be merciful to one another. If Jesus redeems us, we want to share this redemption with our neighbors.