Sunday, March 22, 2015

Homily – 5th Sunday in Lent - We all sin, We all need forgiveness

Jeremiah 31:31-34
Hebrews 5:7-9
John 12:20-33

I’m afraid this weekend’s homily may anger some people.
For this fact, I offer my sincere apology. I’m sorry my words may make some people mad.  That is not my intent.
My intent is to show none of us is immune to sin.  None of us.
When we humans do things that are not in accord with the Gospel, we must all take pause, acknowledge our sinfulness and ask for God’s mercy and forgiveness. That’s the ONLY path to redemption. 
This is what the Prophet Jeremiah is reminding the people of Judah. The only option for their survival from the Babylonian Empire is to repent their sins and seek God’s mercy and forgiveness.
Bible experts call Jeremiah’s new covenant prophecy heard in today’s first reading, “the Gospel before the Gospel.”  
As we know, ONLY in Jesus is there mercy and fullness of redemption.
With this weekend’s Gospel reading, we’ve come to the end of Jesus’ public ministry.
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”
This grain of wheat is about to fall to the ground and die. And Jesus is troubled by this.

Just like His experience in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus’
troubled heart is given voice.
In His moment of anguish He hears the Father’s voice for the first and ONLY time in the Gospel of John. And it gives Him comfort.
Jesus knows His own destiny.
And Jesus explains to His disciples, “Now is the time of judgment on this world.”
But why must the world be judged?
Because ALL of us do things that are not in accord with the Gospel.  ALL of us. 
Take for instance this week’s revelation from the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
As a way of dealing with the severe homeless problem at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Archdiocesan officials had sprinklers installed in the doorways where the homeless sleep.
These sprinklers were programmed to turn on every 30-minutes and douse sleeping homeless people with water in hopes they would not congregate in the doorways of the Cathedral.
This hosing the homeless is no joke. It actually happened.
The Archdiocese now admits it was a mistake and has disabled the sprinklers, issuing a formal apology, saying:
“This kind of system was being commonly used in the Financial District as a safety, security and cleanliness measure.”
Really? Is this what Jesus would do?  
The Prophet Jeremiah has these beautiful words about the New Covenant God will make with his people:
“I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
If the law is written on our hearts, how is it that we continue to do stupid stuff as disciples of Christ?
It’s because we are all sinners. Each and every one of us.
Yes, even deacons, priests, bishops and other Church officials.
And it is ONLY through Christ our Savior that we find mercy, forgiveness and redemption.
I love the picture of Pope Francis from a year or so back giving his confession to a priest stationed in one of the open confessionals at St. Peter’s Basilica. It’s a lesson for us all.

As the greatest prophet ever Jeremiah says,
“All, from the least to the greatest, shall know me, says the Lord, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.”
Then there’s this: Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory said recently he’s selling a controversial multi-million mansion that was his residence. Instead he’s moving into a modest home.
He called it “a strategic mistake that perhaps I should have seen in advance.” 
Archbishop Gregory said he moved into the mansion a year or so before Francis became Pope.
Francis has changed much in our Church today.
Pope Francis reminded us in a homily this week, “the Church ‘is the home of Jesus,’ a house of mercy that welcomes all, and therefore not a place where Christians should close the doors to those seeking to enter.” 
In fact, Pope Francis declared this week that the year 2016 will be an extraordinary jubilee, a Holy Year of Mercy.
Now I know, when Pope Francis starts talking like this, some get nervous, maybe even a little angry. The same was true when Jesus spoke of mercy in his day.
With one week left until the start of eve of Holy week, what sin do you need forgiven? What evildoing must you bring before the light of Christ to start the healing process and find true reconciliation?
One of the biggest sins in our Church today is whining. 
One of my favorite Catholic contemporary singers, Grammy award winner Matt Maher had “the quote of the week” for us all to reflect on today:
“The enemy has taken MOST of the Church and turned them from prophets into a bunch of complainers – myself included. We spend MORE time complaining about life than prophesying the love and grace of God over it. It’s an interesting thing when we silence all our prophets and turn them into complainers because it mutes the voice of God, in a way, in a world that really needs to hear it.”
Did you know that “when we complain, our brains release stress hormones that actually harm neural connections in areas used for problem solving and other cognitive functions? This also happens when we listen to someone else moan and groan. (Experts say) ‘It’s as bad as secondhand smoke.’"

In today’s Gospel, Jesus refuses to complain about his pending Passion, “Yet, what should I say, ‘Father, save me from this hour?’
 Complaining is sinful, but confession is divine.
We have one week left to ask God to create in us a clean heart before Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord.
In a moment, we will ALL partake in the new covenant spoken by Jeremiah. It was made reality at the Last Supper when Jesus spoke these words, “Take this, all of you, and drink from it; this is the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven.”
May the Body and Blood of Christ cleanse us from all our sinfulness and help us to better hear the voice of our God whose law is written on our all our hearts.
Help us, Lord, be ready for you this Easter.