From the pastor’s desk
Fifth Sunday of Lent -Year C– Be attentive to the ways of God and follow his lead.
Last Sunday, at the conclusion of their desert sojourn, the people of Israel celebrated the love, mercy, kindness and compassion of God by observing the Passover feast, re-enacting how God freed them from the enslavement and servitude in Egypt. In that Exodus, through the sacrifice of the Passover lamb, with its blood put on the lintel of their houses, they were spared, while the first-born of the Egyptians were destroyed, the Israelites were freed, they crossed the Red Sea as on dry ground, while their enemy forces were drowned.
But today, after hundreds of years since the Exodus from Egypt, God has spoken through the prophet Isaiah towards the end of their Babylonian exile. He reminds them that he is the One who opened the way for them in the Red Sea, who drowned their enemies in the waters. Now, they should expect new things that he was going to do for them. With this, the prophet was describing the return of the exiles from Babylon as a new exodus. The new exodus will be more glorious and spectacular than the first one.
In the first exodus, God made a way for his people in the sea and they journeyed from the south to the Promised Land. But now, he will make a way for them in the desert and turn wasteland into rivers for his people to drink from, as they traveled from the north back to the Promised Land.
Both exodus events show how God has never and will never forget his people at any time. He did not only intervene in the past, he continues to manifest his love, mercy, kindness, compassion and care for his people at all times by doing wonderful things. All we need to do is to be attentive to his ways and follow his lead at all times. In the Christ event, God has spoken and revealed his great love for humanity. God has shown that he cares for us by sending his Son, Jesus Christ to live among us, to reveal his love, mercy, compassion, kindness for his children. He has forgiven and reconciled us to himself in Christ.
In the gospel, Jesus shows that he wants everyone to be saved. No one should sacrifice another member of the community just to fulfill the law. He does not want us to be self-righteous. As he does not condemn the one who makes mistakes, he does not want others to throw stones of condemnation. This is because he does not want to add more evil to what the sinner has already brought upon himself/herself by sinning because he wants the salvation of all peoples. All have sinned and are in need of God’s mercy. The whole story of the adulteress reveals God’s compassion for the sinner. While not encouraging the unrighteousness of sinfulness and lawlessness, Jesus tells us: “you may go. But from now on, avoid this sin.” Through the Christ event-his life, death and resurrection, Jesus continues to effect justification and reconciliation of the world to the Father. On the Cross, his thirst is for the salvation of all souls; with the last drop of his blood, he declared the work of salvation accomplished. This is the surpassing knowledge of Our Lord, Jesus Christ for which St. Paul has rated all as loss in order to have Jesus as his wealth and have no justice of his own.
He calls us to sainthood from our sinfulness; he invites us to climb the ladder of perfection by following his way. He wants us to repent of our sins through the ministry of his holy Church. That is why, he gave the apostles and their successors the mandate: “whose sins you forgive, are forgiven them; whose sins you retain, are retained.” The holy Church exercises this ministry through the Sacrament of reconciliation or penance or confession. At this Lenten time, we have the opportunity to use the Sacrament of reconciliation to be at right with Our God, with the Church and with one another. So let us endeavor to use it on reconciliation Monday.
Rev. Fr. Michael Onyekwere, SDV, PhD