Homily, 5th Sunday of Lent, Year C

Conversion through Mercy

Isaiah 43:16-21

Psalm 125:1-6

Philippians 3:8-14

John 8:1-11

Today’s readings bespeak the continuation of the anomaly brought about by Jesus. It may be proper to call it: the Holy Scandal, yet it’s a scandal that saves, if we allow and follow it. It is a surprise; it’s a new thing.

The first reading Isaiah 43:16-21
partially refers to this new thing: God coverts a people to himself by great acts but these are acts of mercy, Isaiah reminds us.

God bends nature to show mercy.

This prophecy exhorts hope in the Israelites who sinned against God. But in God’s mercy, they now have a future.

However, this mercy is completely realized in the person of Jesus, who adds us continuously to the Israelites, God’s people.

In the Gospel John 8:1-8, this new thing; this scandal that goes against human thinking and standard is expressed. Is it not just to condemn a criminal/sinner, to burn them alive sometimes like us?

Jesus is more interested in repentance of a sinner than his condemnation. So, instead of condemnation, he shows Mercy and thus coverts unlike us. He wants us to do the same if we must convert people.

Yes, in His mercy he reaches out to both the woman caught in adultery and those desiring to condemn her.

Jesus’ action points to one end which must be desired by every sincere person; the repentance of a bad/sinful fellow.

That Jesus says,” go and sin no more,” entails that he hates sin but wants conversion from sin.

Mercy is the true remedy for sin, not condemnation. Jesus wants us to treat others with mercy. Why?

Because, condemnation does not give the other a chance for conversion. Mercy speaks to the heart of a sinner, calling/her to repentance.

We are always quick to condemn, but we love going to the sacrament of reconciliation where Jesus speaks the same word; “go and sin no more.” That is guilty but acquitted.

We all are guilty, so why always cast the first stone?

Without mercy, who amongst us wouldd merit coming into God’s presence on Sundays and weekdays?

Now, when you see sinners/evil people in the Church on Sundays, how do you feel/react? Sometimes, you want to throw them out of the Church, sometimes you even stop attending church because for you, God’s presence is only for saints.

Jesus says no and that is very and always new to us because it’s difficult to accept, but that’s the heavenly way, the merciful way.

Now look at St. Paul in the second Philippians 3:8-14. He is an epitome of the result of Conversion through Mercy.

Show me a saint; I will show you a repented sinner.

Paul persecuted and killed the early Christians but instead of Killing him like every one of us would want, the Lord showed him mercy and he not only got converted but became a force in Christianity even till today.

Paul’s future changed in Christ and he was able to say, “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…” The continuation marvels the reader.

As a follower of Christ, always give a sinner chance to repent by showing mercy because, in Jesus every sinner has a future and every saint has a past and such past is filled with forgiven sins.

Today, the Lord says, “Now, now
come back to me with all your heart, for I am all tenderness and compassion.”

What happened to the adulterous woman happens today because it’s the same Jesus.

Fr. Henrycharles Umelechi

©Truth Series


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