Thursday, March 18, 2010

"Go, and from now on do not sin any more."

Fifth Sunday in Lent (5LentC), March 21, 2010

BURNING QUESTION: What is the worst sin?
FEATURED BLOG: 100 questions Jesus asked and YOU must answer
VOCATION NEWS: Pope Says Priests Are More Than "Social Agents"
PASTORAL HISPANA: Encuentro de la miseria humana con la misericordia divina

Dear Friends,

Sunday’s Gospel is about the woman who had been caught in adultery. Enemies of Jesus bring her to him at daybreak while he is teaching people in the temple area. They ask Jesus whether he judges that she should be stoned. After Jesus exposes their malice, the woman's accusers are afraid to condemn her. Our Discussion Questions this week will guide your bible study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

“Let the one among you who is without sin throw the first stone.”

There is no other event in Jesus' life that more clearly illustrates the triumph of mercy over justice than this story. This scene could refashion the whole earth. The teacher lifts his head. He utters a sentence that sums up the Gospel and all Lent: “Let the one among you who is without sin throw the first stone.”

The Hypocrisy of the Pharisees

The brilliant way in which Jesus sprang the Pharisees' trap on themselves makes this one of the world’s great stories. We can all identify with any of the actors of this drama. We can easily identify with the woman's accusers.

Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B. reminds us how we also too easily take the name of God in vain when, under the guise of defending some orthodox doctrine or practice, we engage in destructive, personal attacks upon those who differ with us. Fr. James Gilhooley details how - like the Pahrisees of Jesus' time - as many as 80% of us favor capital punishment today. Do we really differ that much today from the antagonists of John's Gospel?

Fr. Jim Kirstein, SMA reflects upon hypocrisy as virtue that has nothing left but the external appearance of virtue. He then illustrates how Jesus could say repeatedly, “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” and then sit down to table with them and even became friends with them. Jesus always held open the door of hope.

From Misery to Joy

What about the woman caught in adultery? We also can all identify with her, in need of forgiveness - often fallen from the pure joy of living in harmony with God's truth and love. Jesus gives the woman another chance. Instead of allowing her to go to her death, Jesus gives her life. Fr. Phil Bloom explains how Jesus transformed her misery into pure joy. He assures us that Jesus also wants to give us joy now.

Fr. John Foley, S.J. preaches that through her Jesus is clearly telling us who God is and how he acts towards each one of us. And just like this woman, full of shame, full of sin, Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says we also need to depend on the Healing Power of our Merciful and Compassionate Lord.

God's Forgiveness

Jesus forgives sin. But, Fr. Alex McAllister SDS points out, our Lord doesn’t ignore it. Jesus knows sin for what it is — a fundamental and personal rejection of God. He is not shocked or upset. He forgives and invites the sinner to turn from their evil ways and embrace the good.

Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB rightly points out that none of us can say unequivocally that we have never sinned. To preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ without acknowledging the necessity of profound personal conversion and the free gift of God's mercy is to deny the central Christian message of conversion.

And no matter what our sins are, Fr. Jim Kirstein explains, each one of us has the capacity to change. However, our God from whom we receive total and absolute forgiveness expects us to do likewise for others.

100 Questions Jesus Asks in the Gospel

Among the many things Jesus did, he asked a lot of questions! To read scripture as a mere spectator looking on is to miss the keynote. So whenever you read the Gospels and Jesus asks a question, answer it! Do not wait to see what Peter or Magdalene, or the Pharisees or the crowd say for an answer. Answer them in your own words. This brings Scripture powerfully alive. Here are 100 of the questions Jesus asked in the Gospel.

If you're a Catholic man, Maurice Blumberg offers this Lenten reflection for you: Opening Ourselves to Jesus’ Call to Follow Him. If you're a woman, send this article to the men in your life. And let the Holy Spirit touch their hearts this Lent.

And now picture yourself as a member of the household of the Pope at the Vatican. And imagine further that he was a regular church-goer attending Mass with you. Your presiding priest will be Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, the Capuchin friar who is the official Pontifical Preacher to the Papal Household. And here's the homily you will hear him deliver to you and the Pope. It's his second Lenten reflection for this season: "Christ Offered Himself to God." You can find his other homilies in our library by enrering his name in our SEARCH page.

Reflecting on Sin

The Gospel story we read this Sunday on the adulterous woman and the hypocrytical Pharisees offer us an opportunity to reflect on Sin. Msgr. Charles Pope discusses "The Seven Deadly Sins: Memorize and Understand Them." The more we can know and distinguish them the more we can grow in self knowledge. And from the popular blog Why I am Catholic, Allison Salerno offers another reason why: Because We Don’t Celebrate Sin.

Fr. Longenecker offers bewilderment at those who consider repentance to be a gloomy and unhealthy exercise. He says it shopuld just be the opposite. Admitting our sins and going to confession is actually one of the healthiest and happiest things we can do. Apart from the spiritual graces of the sacrament, he offers several practical benefits to Penitence. And to cap off our reflection on sin, would you care to comment on our Burning Question for this week: What is the worst sin?

St. Patrick's Day

This past Wednesday, we celebrated St. Patrick's Day. And at many parishes across the country, including mine, the festivities stretch to this this weekend. So it might be appropriate that we explain to you "The St. Patrick You Never Knew." No, he didn't chase the snakes out of Ireland. And he may never have plucked a shamrock to teach the mystery of the Trinity. Yet St. Patrick well deserves to be honored by the people of Ireland — and by downtrodden and excluded people everywhere.

Plus we bring you priestly tales of brave Irish clerics clerics who left their misty, green Ireland to serve in dry, dusty Arizona. This is the story of the legacy that Irish priests have blazed in the United States.

US Health Care, Pledge of Allegiance & More

An appeals court in California today ruled that the phrase "one nation under God" in the pledge of allegiance to the flag recited by school children does not violate separation of Church and state. That's one in the win column for the good guys.

And as the Health Care debate rages in Congress and in kitchen tables across the country, he US Bishops issued this summary yesterday: "Regretfully, It Must Be Opposed." The statement from the president of the USCCB, Cardinal Francis George OMI of Chicago, says the cost is too high; the loss is too great.

From Chile, it looks like our Catholic brothers & sisters there will be celebrating ‘churchless’ Holy Week as a result of the recent earthquake. Numerous bishops in Chile are reporting that nearly 90 percent of Chile’s churches have been damaged or destroyed, including many historic national monuments. And from the Vatican, World Youth Day Turns 25 this week. And Benedict XVI is hailing the "abundant fruits" of the initiative launched by his predecessor 25 years ago as an "annual meeting of believing young people," coming together to "discover the beauty of the Church."

Connecting the Dots

Our Stories of Hope are compiled to move the heart, as well as the spirit. And we kick things off with the conversion story of 25-year-old Jonathan Tuttle who talks about his imperceptible and awkward conversion. And if you are suffering, or feel like the world is crumbling down around you, Bo sanchez asks you to "Allow Love to Heal You" becasue you are God's very own.

Plus, here's a video of a very moving story about a child who was conceived as the result of a rape. But his mother, despite her pain chose life. She brought him to term and the child, Ryan, was adopted by a large family of what became 13 Children, 10 of them adopted. Check it out.

Old-Car story and Kids Chores

If you have kids, Danielle Bean of Faith & Family Live says "Put 'Em to Work!" She says kids can do chores and she shares a list of things children can do- from the two-year-olds to the teen-agers.

Finally, here's the story of Rachel & Chariot. She's 90 years old. Her car, Chariot, is 45 years old. And they're both still humming around. I've heard about antique cars but this one wins the grand prize. This lady doesn't keep her car in some dusty garage, she actually drives it and has been driving it ever since she bought it in 1964. This is certainly something the car manufacturer should keep and use in an advertisement. This is quite a story.

By the way, the annual Religious Education Conference, the largest Catholic convention west of the Mississippi, is being held at Anaheim, CA this weekend by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. If you can't make it, we have the next best thing: Live coverage of the event by internet. Check it out.

Another eventrful week in our Catholic world. Have a great and blessed new week.

Keep the Faith. peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

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