“To those who rejected Him, righteousness would one day appear as a terrible justice; to the sinful men who accepted Him and allied themselves to His life, righteousness would show itself as mercy.” ― Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen: (1895 –1979: was an American bishop of the Catholic Church known for his preaching and especially his work on television and radio.)
Gospel Text: (JN 8:21-30)
Jesus said to the Pharisees:
"I am going away and you will look for me,
but you will die in your sin.
Where I am going you cannot come."
So the Jews said,
"He is not going to kill himself, is he,
because he said, 'Where I am going you cannot come'?"
He said to them, "You belong to what is below,
I belong to what is above.
You belong to this world,
but I do not belong to this world.
That is why I told you that you will die in your sins.
For if you do not believe that I AM,
you will die in your sins."
So they said to him, "Who are you?"
Jesus said to them, "What I told you from the beginning.
I have much to say about you in condemnation.
But the one who sent me is true,
and what I heard from him I tell the world."
They did not realize that he was speaking to them of the Father.
So Jesus said to them,
"When you lift up the Son of Man,
then you will realize that I AM,
and that I do nothing on my own,
but I say only what the Father taught me.
The one who sent me is with me.
He has not left me alone,
because I always do what is pleasing to him."
Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him.
Time and again the Gospels tell us that Jesus came in love to call sinners: tax collectors, people caught in adultery… wayward souls of all types who suffer because of their sinfulness. Jesus was stern with the Pharisees because they had taken the heart and spirit out of religion; they thought their salvation was guaranteed because of their descent from Abraham; religion was reduced to mere hypocritical observance of a multiplicity of minute regulations. In fact the Pharisees had become complacent and saw themselves as beyond the message of Jesus.
As we move into the homestretch of Lent, with the solemn celebrations of the Paschal Triduum ahead of us, we are encouraged to open ourselves to renewed hearts and souls, awakened to the power of God’s mercy and love, and challenged to witness our faith in our contemporary world. It’s prime time to review our faith lives. What about your Lenten prayer, your penitential practices, your acts of charity that were part of your initial Ash Wednesday fervor? Have we become lethargic or complacent, or perhaps more involved with complaints about our current conditions or the things we don’t have? Do we take Jesus for granted?