Bottom line: When we encounter Jesus he refocuses our lives. "See, I am doing something new".
In our first reading God says, "I am doing something new". This newness overwhelms things past. "Remember not the events of the past," God says, "the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new".
From my years as a priest I know people live with regrets. I have my own remorse. But God says, "Remember not the events of the past...I am doing something new."
What is the new thing God is doing? St. Paul gives the answer. He speaks about his encounter with Jesus - not Jesus limited by time and space - but Jesus risen from the dead. Paul is a young man who thinks he has it all together, who know where he is going. Jesus turns his world upside down. For Jesus' sake Paul considers those old things "so much rubbish".
Don't get the wrong impression. The things Paul now considers "so much rubbish" were pretty good. He knew the Bible intimately and he scrupulously fulfilled the commandments. Still, in comparison with knowing Jesus - or being known by him, they are small potatoes. For the sake of knowing Jesus, Paul says, "I have accepted the loss of all things."
In the Gospel we see someone who - for a different reason - has lost everything. Because of her reckless behavior she is exposed to public shame. She loses her family. If she has children, she will never see them again. The man who promised he would always care for her, well, he has vanished. She wants to die - and the community has condemned her to death. She has lost everything.
Unexpectedly a man speaks up. He doesn't exonerate her, but he issues a challenge: Those of you, so anxious to condemn, think about your own sins. The accusers leave one by one. "So he was left alone with the woman before him." Augustine says that in the end only two remain: miseria and misericordia. Miseria means anguish, wretchedness, misery. Misericordia combines two words: cordia (heart) and miser (misery). Misericordia, mercy, refers to Jesus' heart for the wretched.
When all is said and done, you and I are like that woman: alone with Jesus. He is the greatest treasure. Like Paul she wants to share that treasure but she doesn't know how. I want to give you an idea how to share Jesus - especially as we enter these last two weeks before Easter.
Begin by praying for the person you want to bring to Jesus, maybe someone in your own family or someone you work with. Pray by name. Then if Jesus opens the opportunity, let them know. This morning I was praying and you came into my mind. I sense you are going through some difficult times. This may lead to a conversation - or not. Invite them to come to Mass with you. Easter's a great time - and we will do our best to make it a good experience.
Keep your focus on Jesus. It's not about you. It's about Jesus. For him it's worth the loss of all things. He fulfills what God promises about "doing something new". Jesus enable us to refocus our lives. Next week we'll see how Jesus does it. On Palm Sunday we begin the week that leads to the resurrection - where Jesus breaks the bonds of time and space. That's why he can become bodily present in the Eucharist. When we encounter Jesus he refocuses our lives. "See, I am doing something new". Amen.
Audio File of Fifth Sunday of Lent Year C Homily for 2016
From Archives (Year C homilies for Fifth Sunday of Lent):
Homilies for Year A Readings for RCIA Scrutinies:
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Take the Plunge Bible Study (audio resources)
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.
Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron
Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru