"By Christ's deeds the Lord has shown himself great"
A Reflection for Sunday March 21, 2010
Based on Readings from: Isiah 43:16-21, Psalm 126, Philippians 3:8-14, John 8:1-11
By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD
Mission Saints Sergius and Bacchus
I have chosen words from the title of the psalm used in today's liturgy of the Novus Ordo rite or new rite in the western churches since it compliments all the readings used by the Universal church for Passion Sunday.
The Gospel of John 8:1-11 is the story of the woman about to be stoned because she was caught in adultery and how Jesus responded to those who were about to stone her. Jesus said to them "If there is one of you who have not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her". With those words Jesus broke with the teachings of the old covenant for Christ came into this world as the mediator of a new covenant or agreement between God and us.
In the Gospel of John 8:48-59 we find Christ saying; "If I honored myself, it would mean nothing. My Father is the one who honors me. You claim that he is your God, even though you don't really know him. If I said I didn't know him, I would be a liar, just like all of you. But I know him, and I do what he says."
Notice the words of Christ; "You claim that he is your God, even though you don't really know him". Today everywhere we hear preachers claiming to know God and Christ and yet they go about shouting condemnation and hell fire and damnation and claim that they are preaching the teachings of Christ, yet, the Gospel story of the woman caught in adultery is an example of how Christ preached mercy and forgiveness. Our God is a loving, merciful and forgiving God as shown from today's Gospel Story.
Paul's letter to the Philippians opening words sum it all up, at least for me they do, "I believe nothing can happen that will outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For him I have accepted the loss of everything, and I look on everything as so much rubbish if only I can have Christ and be given a place in him. I am no longer trying for perfection by my own efforts, the perfection that comes from the Law, but I want only the perfection that comes through faith in Christ, and is from God and based on faith"
.Paul acknowledges that perfection only comes when we have been received into the eternal promise of Christ. "I am far from thinking that I have already won. 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 is the prize to which God calls us upwards to receive in Christ."
I believe that it is not our duty or obligation to place condemnation on any of God's children but that we should teach the words of Christ and instruct God's children on the way they have been called by God to live their lives. We most certainly should never think that God has made a mistake in creating someone in a certain way or refuse to allow one of God's children from participating in the worship and reception of the graces of the sacraments. When we prevent anyone from worshiping God we are acting like those who wanted to stone the woman caught in adultery.
The next two weeks are some of the most holy and humbling times within the liturgical calendar. They are a time when we examine ourselves deeply and make our list of strengths and weaknesses regarding how we are living the teachings of God as given us through Christ.
It is a time when we are reminded of how much Christ was willing to suffer for our sake and a time to ask ourselves how much we are willing to suffer in order to achieve the promise of Eternal life with God.
Christ did not go through all He endured for just a few individuals who perceive that they are holier than others but for ALL of the children of God, every individual on the face of the earth.
Let each of us, over the next two weeks, think about how Christ came to earth and by His words and deeds how God has shown himself great and given us the way, the truth and the light that will lead us to the Father, our creator, and everlasting life with The Father, Son and Holy Spirit and Christ's and our heavenly mother Mary as well as all the heavenly elect.
Let us use this time to improve our relationship with Almighty God and with your brothers and sisters in Christ by working harder to live a life that reflects the teachings of Christ.
That is how we will pass over to the promised land of Almighty God. AMEN