5th Sunday of Lent, Year C

We have two homilies for 5th Sunday of Lent, Year C.
The first was delivered by Father Hanly then transcribed by us.
The second is a written version by Father Hanly which he later delivered at another Mass.

Two Homilies:

Sharing God’s Forgiveness

Sharing God’s Forgiveness

In this excellent homily for 5th Sunday of Lent, Year C, Father Hanly teaches us we must share God’s forgiveness with each other.

Readings for Fifth Sunday of Lent, Year C

  • First Reading: Isaiah 43:16-21
  • Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6
  • Second Reading: Philippians 3:8-14
  • Gospel: John 8:1-11

Recording

Transcript

This is a wonderful gospel. It preaches and teaches for itself. There’s no need even to comment on it. But, I’m sure, the one thing I’d like to say is you should be warned.

Because I’m sure all of you are saying, in your hearts, “Yes, we must forgive.” And this is the lesson that Jesus wants us to know: we must forgive.

But John is saying something quite different.

He wants us to put ourselves in the shoes of the lady, the lady who got lost along the way and then was dragged in and thrown in front of this group of judging people and heard the words that Moses said, she should be stoned, and that they were all going to do that so that the law would be fulfilled.

This was a Jewish lady and the law was at the very heart of everything that she ever believed in. And she was a daughter of Abraham, a daughter of Isaac, and here she found herself in this angry mob. And then what hope had she?

What we are supposed to do is to recognise two things.

Number one is we must forgive if we claim to be Christians.

Number two is we are not Jesus forgiving. We have no right to forgive this woman.

How have we the right to forgive this woman, and this is the point of the gospel, for the woman is us. We, too, are believers. We, too, go astray very quickly. We, too, turn away from the goodness and loveliness of God Himself. We, too, are worthy to be brought before a tribunal to be judged for what we have done. And we have no response.

We are asked to admit the fact, as little St Francis of Assisi said, “Of all the sinners, I am the worst,” because he’s the only one who could look into his own soul and find out in the depths of his own soul the many ways he refused to love enough and care enough, the many ways he was ungrateful and unkind. And he himself would be the first to admit it.

And they would say to him, “Francis, Francis, stop that, everybody knows you’re a holy man.”

And Francis would say to them, “What I say is the truth. I cannot look into the hearts of others, but only my own, and I know that without the forgiveness and grace of God I would be lost as well.”

That’s a very good thing to remember.

The other very lovely touch is when…

Jesus knows that he’s being put on trial.

The rule for an adulteress to be stoned in public, in all the history of Israel, and they write their history down very carefully, people died of many, many things, some natural, some violent, but there is never in all of that history mentioned that a woman taken in adultery was stoned by anyone.

These are cautionary tales, these are to make us understand, which we could understand today, is that marriage vows are sacred and they should never be broken.

And it is, as Jesus says, when we do wrong and we hurt children that a millstone should be tied around our neck and thrown into the sea.

He’s talking in the same way, that we should be careful. We should be careful of other people and recognise our own need for forgiveness and our own need for improvement.

The nice part is when he goes to her, he doesn’t say, “I forgive you, now you can clap your hands and jump around and I will get all the credit,” he says, “Does any man condemn you?”

And she looks around and they’re all gone and she says, “No.”

And then Jesus says, “Well, if they all forgive you, I am not going to condemn you.”

What he is saying is, of course, all his disciples should learn the great lesson.

When Peter says, “How often should I forgive? Seven times?” Jesus says, “Seventy times seven.” Because it’s not your forgiveness. Who are you to forgive? It’s God’s forgiveness.

And when he sends his disciples out into the world, he doesn’t say, “Go out and forgive everybody.” He says, “Bring the forgiveness of my Father. All is forgiven and you are the vessel of God’s forgiveness.”

And even when we forgive each other in our small way, it is not our forgiveness, it is God’s forgiveness.

And if we could remember our own need for it, then we will remember that we are called to share it, to share it with others, just as we share the many sins and the many imperfections with others.

Now it is God who erases them all and brings us together as one family.

And that is the loveliness of today’s gospel.

It is saying not merely that you don’t judge each other, which is very stupid because we ourselves have committed so many sins we can’t even count them, but it is saying that, when we look into ourselves and see our weaknesses and ask for God’s forgiveness, we join ourselves to each other and the whole world is forgiven by God.


Forgiveness

Forgiveness

In this excellent homily for 5th Sunday of Lent, Year C, Father Hanly teaches us about forgiveness.

Readings for Fifth Sunday of Lent, Year C

  • First Reading: Isaiah 43:16-21
  • Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6
  • Second Reading: Philippians 3:8-14
  • Gospel: John 8:1-11

Recording

Written Homily

This is a wonderful gospel. A story so simple and direct, written by St. John the Apostle, who, in a few words, teaches us many lessons about the one theme: “forgiveness.”

In the story, John wants us to put ourselves not in the shoes of Jesus but in the shoes of the woman taken in adultery, the poor lady who stumbled and got lost along the way, and was dragged into the temple and thrown to the ground in front of Jesus, by some Pharisees and teachers of the Law of Moses

This was a Jewish lady brought up as a child to respect the Law of Moses. That law was at the very heart of everything that she as a girl believed in and followed. She, too, was a descendent of Father Abraham, and here she found herself in this angry mob.

And what hope had she? The Law must be obeyed for it came, not only from Moses, but from God himself.

And so the Pharisees said to Jesus, “What do you say?”

And Jesus was silent.

More to the point: what are we supposed to do?

If we claim to be Christians, we must forgive.

But on whose authority? By what right do we forgive this woman?

How can we forgive her, and this is the point of the gospel, for the woman is us.

We, too, are believers. We, too, go astray very quickly. We, too, turn away from the goodness and loveliness of God himself. We, too, are worthy to be brought before a tribunal, to be judged for our sins and found guilty for what we have done.

And we have no response but to say, “Forgive me Father for I have sinned…”

In our Mass today, at the very beginning, we acknowledged first our own need for forgiveness when we said, “I confess to Almighty God that I have sinned, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault…”

St Francis of Assisi used to say, “Of all the sinners, I am the worst,” because he’s the only one who can look and search the depths of his own heart and find the many ways he refused to love enough and care enough, the many ways he was ungrateful and unkind. And he himself would be the first to admit it.

And they would say to him, “Francis, Francis, stop that, everybody knows you’re a holy man.”

And Francis would say to them, “What I say is the truth. I cannot see into the hearts of others, but I can look into my own, and I know that without the forgiveness and mercy and grace of God I would be lost forever.”

That’s a very good thing to remember

The second very lovely touch in this story is this…

Jesus knows that he’s being put on trial by his enemies, who want to report him to the religious authorities as breaking the law.

He also knows the rule is clear that that a woman caught in adultery should be stoned to death.

And yet, in all the history of Israel, and they write their history down very carefully, people died of many, many things, some natural, some violent, but it has never once been recorded in that long history that a woman taken in adultery was ever stoned to death by anyone.

These are cautionary tales, handed down to make us understand, which we can understand today, that marriage vows are sacred and not to be broken.

It is like when Jesus says when we do wrong and we hurt children and lead them astray that a millstone should be tied around our necks and we should be thrown into the sea. He’s not speaking literally but figuratively about how terrible it is to lead innocent children into sin.

And what is Jesus saying?

He’s saying, “Be careful of how you treat each other.” We should be careful of other people. We should recognise our own need for forgiveness first, and then reach out to forgive others.

The nice part is when Jesus rises and he says to the men, when they ask that question, what he thinks of the situation, the nice thing was his words, and his words would live for ever:

“Let the one among you who is without sin
be the first to throw a stone at her.”

And then he kneels down again and he’s very quiet and one by one the men walk away, dropping their stones behind them.

And all of a sudden, they’re caught again, surprised, and we must remember that in a crowd it took great courage of many of those men to turn away because they were turning away when they thought it was decent and true and preserving the fidelity of the Israeli people.

They walked away ashamed knowing, yes, it must be done, but not by me, because I, too, have sinned, and the only thing that I can do is ask for forgiveness and then I will go out and forgive others.

The final little bit is my favourite part.

There’s nobody left. And Jesus rises up again and he looks at the lady and he says these words,

“Woman,

“Woman.” He calls her “woman.” The last time we heard “woman” was Jesus talking to his mother at the marriage feast of Cana.

And he says to this lady,

“Woman, where are they?
Has no one condemned you?”
She replied, “No one, sir.”
Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.
Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

The last little bit between Jesus and the lady you must think over and recognize that God is a God of love, a God of forgiveness, a God of reaching out, a God of caring, and a God that we learn to love, not because of his power and might, and we learn to love him because he’s weak.

And what is God’s weakness?

We are his children and he cannot help but love us all the time.

FAQ for Homily for 5th Sunday of Lent, Year C

WHEN IS 5th Sunday of Lent, Year C, IN 2019?7th April 2019
What is the next homily by Father Hanly in this Liturgical Cycle?
Holy Thursday, Year C
WHO WAS FATHER HANLY?FATHER DENIS J. HANLY WAS A MARYKNOLL MISSIONARY
HOW CAN WE FIND OTHER HOMILIES BY FATHER HANLY?BY LITURGICAL CALENDAR OR BY TOPIC OR BY TITLE

Information about Father Hanly’s homilies for 5th Sunday of Lent, Year C

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If you would like to use our transcripts of either of these sermons (updated 2019), please contact us for permission.

Father Hanly's sermon for 5th Sunday of Lent, Year C, "Sharing God’s Forgiveness" was delivered on 21st March 2010. Father Hanly's sermon for 5th Sunday of Lent, Year C, "Forgiveness" was delivered on 17th March 2013. It is sometimes hard to accurately transcribe Father Hanly's reflections, so please let us know if you think we have made a mistake in any of our transcripts, and let us have your suggestions.

We hope that Father Hanly’s homilies, always kind, always wise, always full of love, will restore you to peace and harmony through a new understanding of what is important in this world. We believe these homilies are inspiring for everyone, not only for Roman Catholics or other Christians.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Frank Garofolo says:

    Certainly, I found this homily spiritually rewarding with perhaps a simplistic viewpoint that is helpful for the growing of my faith walk with our Lord Jesus. Truly it is most appreciated.

    1. Jane says:

      Thank you!

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