Fifth Sunday in Lent

First Reading: Isaiah 43:16-21

Psalm Reading: Psalm 126

Second Reading: Philippians 3:8-14

Gospel Reading: John 8:2-11

Homily by Fr. Jun Peñalosa

The season of Lent has almost come to an end as we have our last Sunday celebration today.

The first reading speaks of a miracle God is able to do.  It talks about God making a way in the desert and providing water in the desert. That “desert” may refer to the hearts of men today; how sometimes the Lord can come and create a river that can flow in the midst of dryness, where even wild animals can partake of the water. But that water was meant only for God’s people. You can see then, that when a person is reconciled to God, there is life that flows in that person, and that person becomes a blessing to the world.

The second reading talks about righteousness that does not come from observing the law. It is the one that comes from knowing and trusting Jesus and it is the righteousness that God provides for each and every one of us.

Today’s readings speak of the wondrous plan that God prepares for us; how God speaks of restoration and righteousness, compassion and forgiveness, justice and mercy, and repentance. Father Jun reminded us of our purpose when we started our Lenten journey and pilgrimage and prayed we might be able to find and see it fulfilled in our lives. In his personal journey, he shared his own struggles and difficult times encountered because it requires so much confrontations and conflicts. But “conflicts make us stronger, and make us more determined as a people”, he said.

Our Gospel reading tells of a woman caught in act of committing adultery. Like the woman in the story, we are entitled to be stoned to death because of the sins we always committed. But praise God, we have a God who hates sin but loves the sinner. And just like the Pharisees, we judge and demand justice for sins committed by others; but Jesus made us think and look into our hearts. And this is the saddest thing we always encounter in ourselves; that when we look deeper in our hearts, we often find more sins hidden inside, compared to the person we are accusing. And because of this, we deserve judgement, we deserve punishment. But just like that woman, Jesus never condemned her of sin, but showed mercy and forgiveness. And forgiveness in our life entails responsibility. Our ability to respond to God is what causes us to receive what God is giving us.

Father Jun pointed out two (2) things we should remember:

First, “God’s justice will always be accompanied by God’s mercy.”  Justice without mercy is not true justice. On the cross, we are reminded of justice and mercy kissing each other. This was shown by Jesus having compassion on the woman. He took her sin, (and ours) and paid for them on the cross through His death. In our life, how do we go in dealing with justice? “Never criticize, never judge a person that you are not willing to help and pray for.” (Primate Dick)

Second, “We are all recipients of God’s mercy.”  Because of God’s mercy, our sins have been forgiven. And the sins that has been forgiven, demand that we need to change. “Sin no more” as Jesus said to the woman.

Finally, Father Jun encouraged us, to give a gift to the Lord as we conclude this Lenten season. And the best gift that could make God smile, is the gift of a transformed life. When our life is changed, it becomes a blessing to God. Further, he urged us to go to the sacrament of confession, as the first step of repentance. For in humility and repentance we can have a new life!

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