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Dust yourself off

March 13, 2016

A reflection for the 5th Sunday in Lent, Year C. The readings are Isaiah 43:16-21; Psalm 126; Philippians 3:8-14 and John 8:1-11.

Oscar Wilde once said that the only difference between a saint and a sinner is that saints have a past and sinners have a future. That, I think is the good news for today.

In the first reading we have the Jewish people in exile, longing for freedom. They longed for the new Jerusalem, the new Exodus, the new Moses, the new Passover, the new Manna; the new Heavens and the new earth. And God tells them through the prophet Isaiah to not remember the things of the past; that He indeed is doing something new. This is our God: The God who makes all things new. That’s why the Psalm says that we are filled with joy: Because the Lord has done great things for us!

And in the second reading we have St. Paul writing to the Philippians. Paul is writing this letter from prison. He’s run the race; fought the good fight – and he knows what it’s like to be a sinner. He knows that every sinner has a future! I suspect that Paul continued struggling with sin all his life, like all of us. He says, “If somehow I may attain the resurrection of the dead.” St. Paul is not sure if he will attain resurrection, but he says that he continues his pursuit in hope that he will possess the resurrection of the dead. He forgets what lies behind and strains forward to what lies ahead. He continues his pursuit towards the goal.

I think that what we do instead is since we are so bogged down by our sin – what lies behind, that we lose the ability to strain forward towards the goal. We get so discouraged by our sin. We sin every day, and every day it’s the same sins – every time we go to Confession it’s the same things and we get discouraged and so we stop going. Or worse we stop going to mass or we stop praying. Guess what? You’re going to sin every day and chances are that it’s always going to be the same sins. Stop dwelling on your sinfulness; get up, dust yourself off, go to Confession and continue your pursuit towards the goal.

That’s what Jesus tells the woman in today’s Gospel: “Has anyone condemned you? Neither do I condemn you. Get up, [dust yourself off], go your way and sin no more.” That’s good news! That’s what Lent is about. We are always told that Lent is about repentance and penance, but why? We repent and do penance because we are straining towards what lies ahead; towards the goal that comes to us at Easter. Most of us believe that God will make all things new, but that it will happen no matter what we do. I think that the new Heavens and the new earth will begin when you and I begin working for the new Heavens and the new earth. That’s Lent. That’s why Pope Francis has invited us this year to pay a special attention to mercy. Yes, to the mercy we can offer each other, to having a heart for the misery of others; to reconciliation and forgiveness, but in a most special way to Divine Mercy – to the Mercy that God has for us. The God that says, “I don’t condemn you; get up, dust yourself, off, go to Confession, go your way and sin no more.” The God that makes all things new. Every sinner has a future.

A few weeks ago I came across a beautiful prayer that I want you to learn:

“Lord Jesus, you taught us to overcome sin through prayer, fasting and acts of charity; Help us trust in your love when we are discouraged by our weaknesses.”

Make this your prayer today and for the rest of Lent. Make this your prayer when you are discouraged by your weaknesses. Make this your prayer for the Year of Mercy. Every sinner has a future because God makes all things new. All things!  So get up, dust yourself off, go your way and sin no more.

From → English, Reflections

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