Monthly Archives: March 2016

God Does Not Condemn Anyone by Fr. Joel

                   GOD DOES NOT CONDEMN ANYONE BUT HE FORGIVES OUR SINSstones

There is a story told of two monks who were on their way back to their monastery from a mission and had to cross a river before reaching home. When they approached the river, they saw a lady who was trying to cross the river but could not because the water was too much for her to cross. One of the monks offered to carry her on his back to help her cross the river. The other monk was scandalized but never said a word until they got home he then condemned the act of the other monk who carried the lady on his back. He said, ‘’ that was wrong and against our rule, thou shall not touch a woman,’’ and you carry a woman on your back. You have brought shame to our order. The other monk who was being condemned answered him, “For God’s sake, I carried that woman across the river and dropped her over there while you are still carrying her in your mind all this while. Who has committed more sin?”

In the first reading, Prophet Isaiah explained the goodness of God to the people of Israel namely: He opened the red sea to enable them to walk through on dry land, and he provided them with food and drink in the desert. While in the second reading St. Paul talked about losing everything for the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus; having faith in Christ and sharing in his suffering in order to share in his glorious resurrection.

The gospel is about the woman caught committing adultery by some men who brought her to Jesus to test him and hear what he would say about it in relation to the law of Moses that commanded them to stone such people. Jesus delayed giving them an answer and started writing on the ground. But they insisted that he should answer them. Then Jesus said to them, ‘let the one without sin among you be the first to throw the stone at her.’’ And he continued writing on the ground. On hearing this they all left one after the other leaving the woman alone with Jesus. And then Jesus ask the woman, ‘’Has no one condemned you?’’ And she replied, ‘’No one, sir.’’ Then Jesus said, ‘’Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.’’

First of all, the men who caught the woman committing adultery and brought her to Jesus were not fair at all. Yes, because the woman could not have committed adultery alone. Where was the other party with whom she committed the adultery? That was selfishness from their part. They should have brought both the man and woman (Liv.20: 10). Secondly, they, just like the monk in the story did not examine their conscience before judging and condemning the woman. That is what most of us do to others, we judge and condemn without examining our conscience. We judge and condemn others for the same sins that we are guilty of. We are able to see and judge the faults of others but not ours. But Jesus who knows the hearts and minds of all people challenged those who brought the woman to examine their consciences and see if they had the moral courage to stone her. And truly, they could not stone her because they realized their own sins as well. And they all left without anyone throwing a stone at her.

In the Bible, Jesus teaches that no one should judge another person because no one is worthy to do so, we are all sinners. ‘’Take away the log in your own eyes first so that you can see well the speck in your neighbor’s eyes” (Luke 6:42). God alone can render a perfect judge to anyone because he is holy and can see all, even, the hidden things in the hearts of men and women. Therefore, do not judge and condemn others. This gospel passage has portrayed our God as a compassionate God, full of infinite mercy and immeasurable love for the sinners. However, this does not mean God confirmed the sin of the woman or anyone, because he told the woman to go and sin no more. This also tells us that our God is the God of second chance. He gives more opportunities for us to make amend of our evil ways. He does not judge or condemnation anyone as it is written in the laws of Moses.

This story of Jesus not condemning the woman who committed adultery serves as a lesson for all of us. We need to learn from it not only how to forgive one another but also not to judge and condemn those who do wrong. Forgive many times without counting or without condition attach to it. For if God were to consider our sins or judge and condemn us who will survive? Just forgive, let go and encourage the sinner not to sin any more.

FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT

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God Does Not Love Sin But … by Fr. Joel

GOD DOES NOT LOVE SIN BUT LOVES THE SINNER AWAYman praying

In today’s readings we see God demonstrating his love for his people in spite of their unfaithfulness. For instance, in the first reading he assured the people of Israel of his love and protection. And in the gospel we see a much more dramatic demonstration of unconditional forgiveness and love through the father to the son who had offended him.

The son collected his own share of inheritance, wealth and left to a distance land and squandered everything in the life sin. When he had finished everything that he had, he became so hungry that he went to work in a swine (pig) farm and wanted to feed himself from the swine’s food. What a disgrace, that the son of a very wealthy father descending so low to the point of wanting to eat with animals. He who exalts himself will be humbled while he who humbles himself will be exalted says Jesus. And of all animals it was swine’s food he wanted to eat. Remember that swine is one of those animal God forbid his people to eat in the Old Testament.

That is what happens if you throw away your dignity and waste your resources in the life of sin. Most times when you did not work hard for and you achieve something on a platter of gold, you tend to be careless and wasteful. That is the situation of this prodigal son.

This son took advantage of his father’s generosity, had no foresight, he was after worldly pleasure and happiness, he was not responsible, and did not want to carry his cross. He just wanted to enjoy life but he ended up suffering instead. That is why Christ said that anyone who wants to enjoy this worldly life to the detriment his soul will lose it, but anyone who suffers and loses his this earthly life for his sake will gain eternal reward.

After suffering and wasting his wealth and life, he came back to his senses and thought of how his father’s servants have more than enough to eat while he is dying of hunger. That is what happens when we are suffering we remember all the good things and opportunities that we have wasted. The good thing is that he admitted his fault, judge, and even condemned himself by saying that he had sinned against God and his father and no longer worthy of being his father’s son. And he wished his father could accept him as one his servants.

He was bold enough and decided to return to the father and apologize to him and with the hope of being accepted as one of the servants. But to his amazement, while he was still far away, his father caught sight of him coming and he ran to him in order to welcome him back home. And his father decided to celebrate his return home in a very special way that made the first son angry. Instead of him being punished for his wrong deed he was celebrated for coming back home. What a kind and merciful father! He was given new clothes (sign of renewal and new beginning in their relationship), shoes (sign of being a legitimate son and not a slave as he wanted), and a ring (sign and seal of their covenant relationship as father and son). And on top of that the calf they have been fattening for years was slaughtered for the celebration. All these was to demonstrate the father’s unconditional love and forgiveness to his son that was lost but is now found, who died and is now back to life.

That is how God is to us, he loves us in spite of our unfaithfulness and is ready to forgive and celebrate our repentance from our sins without any condition attach. When we repent of our sins, we are made clean and new creation by God himself. We regain our lost glory and dignity. Therefore, do not be afraid of coming back to God and his church because he is full of mercy and compassion. Just as the prodigal son was celebrated for returning home that is how the angels, saints, and God in heaven celebrate our repentance.

Many of us are like the prodigal son. We have gone far away from God because of our sins. We have squandered our blessings and destroyed our dignity as children of God. In our effort to seek worldly pleasure and happiness we have brought upon ourselves misery, depression, loneliness, addictions of all kinds, lack of love and peace, and all kinds of evil into our lives. We need to learn from the prodigal son and come back to the father to receive forgiveness and love. We need to reconcile with our families, friends, neighbors, church, and God.

This year and the period of lent are moments in which we are called to come back to Lord and receive his forgiveness and love. Please take advantage of these beautiful opportunities. And as you receive unconditional forgiveness from the Lord, please endeavor to forgive those who wrong us as well. Our forgiveness will not be completed if we do not forgive others who have offended us. Remember what we say always in the prayer Jesus taught us “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us’’ Please do not be like the elder son who was angry that the younger son was forgiven and celebrated for coming back home. We must be like the father who forgives without any condition attached.

FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT YEAR C