Every Wednesday throughout Lent we will post a reflection on the upcoming Sunday readings. We hope these help you on your own Lenten journey. This week’s reflection was written by CFCA preacher Father Mark Lane, C.O.
There is a powerful message in the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Lent. God sent his son into the world not to condemn it, but that the world might be saved through him.
The point of our faith is to help people, to save them. It is a point I find easy to forget, especially when I am caught behind someone at the supermarket check-out or the door bell rings when I am watching my favorite TV show!
Again and again Jesus teaches mercy, acceptance and inclusion, especially for the outcasts and those called sinners.
Who cannot be humbled by the incarnate son of God who steps in between the woman caught in adultery and the stones of her righteous neighbors? How disarmingly simple and clear are his words to her when they drop their stones and walk away: “Is there anyone left to condemn you?”
From left are Nakajjubi, mother of two children sponsored through CFCA, and her granddaughter, Monica, in Uganda. Nakajjubi is part of a CFCA mothers group that grows passionfruit to earn income for the mothers’ families.
“Then neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
Perhaps we simply expect it of God, but it is no small thing to choose to stand up for the condemned. We know this to be true from our own experience.
We are, at times, the prodigal son who has wasted our inheritance, and Jesus invites us to hear the silent acceptance of the father who sees his sinful and repentant boy from afar, goes out to him and invites him to the feast without a word of condemnation.
If I am honest with myself and I were in that father’s shoes, I would have given the boy a good lecture.
But the image of God Jesus puts before us says not a word; his focus is squarely and fully on the fact that the boy has come back. His posture toward him is love and compassion.
It is the same for us surely. What we want ó mercy, love, compassion ó is what we are called to extend to others. Not just kind thoughts and moving words but in fact.
As Catholics we hold on to the mystery of the Eucharist as real presence. It is a hard theology but it is an important one, for our love too must be real.
Jesus said it so clearly, “If you say that you love God and do not love your neighbor I call you a liar.”
Or as I like to say, if someone tells you they love you but they never help you take out the garbage, do not believe them.
This is one of the many reasons I believe in the work of CFCA ó it is real. It is so clearly Christ-like.
It is in simple and practical ways loving others without thought to their worthiness or whether they can pay us back. It is a simple way to live the unconditional love of a God who comes not to condemn but to save.
By taking $30 a month out of my pocket, I am in a real and meaningful way offering practical salvation for a sister or brother in need. No small thing. Indeed it is as eminently God-like as Jesus’ own life.