Saturday, March 20, 2010

Fifth Sunday of Lent: "Neither do I condemn you"

Isaiah 43, 16-21; Psalm 126; Philippians 3, 8-14; St. John 8, 1-11

"Go, and do not sin again." (Jn 8:11.)

How can we today hear these words just as the woman caught in adultery did, so that we may walk away from the Lord cleansed, renewed, made whole again after the tragedy and brokenness of sin? Through the sacraments of healing.

The forgiveness of the Lord is infinite and without conditions. The healing power of the mercy of God, fully given in Christ, can be ours definitively and completely whenever we approach the Lord in the sacrament of Confession and, when sick in body, also through the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.

The Lord Jesus Christ, physician of our souls and bodies, who forgave the sins of the paralytic and restored him to bodily health, (Cf. Mk 2:1-12) has willed that his Church continue, in the power of the Holy Spirit, his work of healing and salvation, even among her own members. This is the purpose of the two sacraments of healing: the sacrament of Penance and the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. (CCC 1421)

"Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from God's mercy for the offense committed against him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins and which by charity, by example, and by prayer labors for their conversion." (LG 11 art. 2) (CCC 1422)

It is called the sacrament of forgiveness, since by the priest's sacramental absolution God grants the penitent "pardon and peace." (OP 46: formula of absolution.) It is called the sacrament of Reconciliation, because it imparts to the sinner te life of God who reconciles: "Be reconciled to God." (2 Cor 5:20) He who lives by God's mercfiul love is ready to respond to the Lord's call: "Go; first be reconciled to your brother." (Mt 5:24) (CCC 1424)

If baptism is clearly recorded in the Gospels as the gift of God's mercy and the washing away of all our sins, why another sacrament in order to have the forgiveness of God?

"You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God." (1 Cor 6:11) One must appreciate the magnitude of the gift God has given us in the sacraments of Christian initiation in order to grasp the degree to which sin is excluded for him who has "put on Christ." (Gal 3:27) But the apostle John also says: "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." (1 Jn 1:8) And the Lord himself taught us to pray: "Forgive us our trespasses," (Cf. Lk 11:4; Mt 6:12) linking our forgiveness of one another's offenses to the forgiveness of our sins that God will grant us. (CCC 1425)

Conversion to Christ, the new birth of Baptism, the gift of the Holy Spirit and the Body and Blood of Christ received as food have made us "holy and without blemish," just as the Church herself, the Bride of Christ, is "holy and without blemish." (Eph 1:4; 5:27) Nevertheless the new life received in Christian initiation has not abolished the frailty and weakness of human nature, nor the inclination to sin that tradition calls concupiscence, which remains in the baptized such that with the help of the grace of Christ they may prove themselves in the struggle of Christian life. (Cf. Council of Trent (1546): DS 1515.) This is the struggle of conversion directed toward holiness and eternal life to which the Lord never ceases to call us. (Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1545; LG 40.)(CCC 1426)

Let's pray for each other until, together next week, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick

(See also no. 583 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.)

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy (Publish with permission.)

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