Lent: The Journey of Forgiveness
By Fr. Robbie Deka, Associate Pastor
St. Mary-St. Charles, Cheboygan; St. Clement, Pellston; Sacred Heart, Riggsville
Over the last four weeks, we have been walking with Jesus toward his crucifixion where he gives his life for you and me, my brothers and sisters; to the place where your sins and mine are taken up on the Cross so we may have salvation. How wonderful it is that we are so loved by God our Father that he gave his only son so we might have life. We are a blessed people, chosen and set apart by the forgiving father.
Our Lenten journey with the Lord is a journey of spiritual self-discovery. All of the practices we embrace during Lent -- the additional prayers, daily Mass, soup supers and scripture sharing, Stations of the Cross, fasting to remember the suffering of the Lord, seeking forgiveness for our sins, searching for ways we can serve Christ in the needy -- are wonderful ways of strengthening our spiritual lives. They remind each of us of our capacity to make the Lord present in the world. God can and will use each of us to transform our own particular society and neighborhoods if we just allow the deep reflection within us to become evident, first to ourselves, and then to others.
I believe the goal of this journey is to make the Life of Christ relevant to the world in our own unique ways. He calls us to carry our crosses, to embrace suffering for others. The journey from Ash Wednesday to Easter travels through Good Friday. We are called to a deeper understanding of our personal passions, the suffering we willingly embrace because others deserve to be loved with a sacrificial love. We have heard this all the Gospel readings over the last four weeks.
Lent began with us hearing about how Jesus was led into the desert for forty days to be tempted by the devil. Then we learn the revelation of Jesus to Peter, John and James when he was transfigured. Jesus pleads for us to the Father for forgiveness in the parable of the fig tree. We also see how the father forgives his son, showing us the forgiveness of our Heavenly Father. He invites us to come to him through the Sacrament of reconciliation for forgiveness.
This weeks Gospel reminds me of the days when I was young back in a small African country called Zambia. There were times I did things that that really upset my Mother when she caught me. Then she would let all my siblings know what I had done. I would really feel bad, and somewhat ashamed, for letting them down. Can you imagine how the woman felt in todays Scripture? She was dragged before Jesus, ashamed, maybe just wanting to disappear and not deal with all the results of her actions. She was caught committing adultery. One might say that she was just being used as a pawn by the scribes and Pharisees to discredit Jesus. But still she was made to face the results of what she had done and was definitely ashamed of her actions.
She stood before her people who saw her as a terrible sinner and was ridiculed by the religious leaders of her own society. Then something happened that none of the people present expected. She was brought to Jesus who bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. He put himself in a position where He would not see either her or her accusers. The woman, standing in her shame, experienced the compassion and mercy of our God. With the dynamism of His presence, with the sheer power of His love, He caused the scribes and Pharisees to back down. Jesus saved the womans physical life and then told her to preserve her spiritual life saying, neither do I accuse you. Go and sin no more. The loving dynamism that defused that murderous mob had to overwhelm this woman. Like the woman, full of shame, full of sin, we depend on the healing power of our merciful and compassionate Lord. There are none of us who can say unequivocally that we have never sinned.
My brothers and sisters, this Journey of Lent provides an opportunity for each and every one of us to humble ourselves before Jesus for forgiveness and renewal of heart so we may experience that loving heart he showed to woman in the Gospel. May we be able to forgive each other in our homes, families, workplace, school, and even in our respective parishes. God forgives us because He loves each of us and because He has a plan for each of us. If you love someone, you cannot bear seeing that person in pain. Jesus shows that same love to this woman because His love sees beyond all sin.
Jesus gave power to the Church to absolve sinners through the Holy Apostles, to cleanse us from our sins, and so we take advantage of the beautiful Sacrament of Reconciliation. With great love, Jesus died on the Cross and bore all our sins so that we may be forgiven.