I do not wish to enter into these details now: let each one of us apply this Gospel to himself in his own way. Our situations are different and each one has his own world. Nonetheless, the fact remains that we are all moved and that we can all enter with our inner journey into the depths of the Gospel.
Only a few more remarks: the Gospel helps us understand who God truly is. He is the Merciful Father who in Jesus loves us beyond all measure.
The errors we commit, even if they are serious, do not corrode the fidelity of his love. In the Sacrament of Confession we can always start out afresh in life. He welcomes us, he restores to us our dignity as his children.
Let us therefore rediscover this sacrament of forgiveness that makes joy well up in a heart reborn to true life.
Furthermore, this parable helps us to understand who the human being is: he is not a "monad", an isolated being who lives only for himself and must have life for himself alone.
On the contrary, we live with others, we were created together with others and only in being with others, in giving ourselves to others, do we find life.
The human being is a creature in whom God has impressed his own image, a creature who is attracted to the horizon of his Grace, but he is also a frail creature exposed to evil but also capable of good. And lastly, the human being is a free person.
We must understand what freedom is and what is only the appearance of freedom.
Freedom, we can say, is a springboard from which to dive into the infinite sea of divine goodness, but it can also become a tilted plane on which to slide towards the abyss of sin and evil and thus also to lose freedom and our dignity.
Dear friends, we are in the Season of Lent, the 40 days before Easter. In this Season of Lent, the Church helps us to make this interior journey and invites us to conversion, which always, even before being an important effort to change our behaviour, is an opportunity to decide to get up and set out again, to abandon sin and to choose to return to God.
Let us - this is the imperative of Lent - make this journey of inner liberation together.
Every time, such as today, that we participate in the Eucharist, the source and school of love, we become capable of living this love, of proclaiming it and witnessing to it with our life.
Nevertheless, we need to decide to walk towards Jesus as the Prodigal Son did, returning inwardly and outwardly to his father.
At the same time, we must abandon the selfish attitude of the older son who was sure of himself, quick to condemn others and closed in his heart to understanding, acceptance and forgiveness of his brother, and who forgot that he too was in need of forgiveness.
May the Virgin Mary and St Joseph, my Patron Saint whose Feast it will be tomorrow, obtain this gift for us; I now invoke him in a special way for each one of you and for your loved ones.
Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homily of Pope Benedict XVI, so that it could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us.
16 March 2013
Extracted from the holy Gospel according to John 8:1-11:
Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At daybreak he appeared in the Temple again; and as all the people came to him, he sat down and began to teach them.
The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman along who had been caught committing adultery; and making her stand there in full view of everybody, they said to Jesus, ‘Master, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery, and Moses has ordered us in the Law to condemn women like this to death by stoning. What have you to say?’
They asked him this as a test, looking for something to use against him.
But Jesus bent down and started writing on the ground with his finger.
As they persisted with their question, he looked up and said, ‘If there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’
Then be bent down and wrote on the ground again.
When they heard this they went away one by one, beginning with the eldest, until Jesus was left alone with the woman, who remained standing there.
He looked up and said, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir’ she replied. ‘Neither do I condemn you,’ said Jesus ‘go away, and do not sin any more.’
It was the 5th Sunday of Lent on 17 March 2013, the following Readings were being read in the Universal Church all over the world:
1st Reading: Isaiah 43:16-21 (see above),
Responsorial: Psalm 126:1-6 (see Encouragements-27),
2nd Reading: Philippians 3:8-14 (see above) &
Gospel Reading: John 8:1-11 (see above).
We have extracted the past Sermons of Blessed Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI based on the aforesaid Readings to share with you; so that you could similarly be encouraged – see next page.
23 March 2013
Extracted from the prophet Isaiah 43:16-21:
Thus says the Lord, who made a way through the sea,
a path in the great waters; who put chariots and horse in the field
and a powerful army which lay there never to rise again,
snuffed out, put out like a wick:
No need to recall the past, no need to think about what was done before.
See, I am doing a new deed, even now it comes to light; can you not see it?
Yes, I am making a road in the wilderness, paths in the wilds.
The wild beasts will honour me, jackals and ostriches,
because I am putting water in the wilderness (rivers in the wild)
to give my chosen people drink.
The people I have formed for myself will sing my praises.
Extracted from the letter of Saint Paul to the Philippians 3:8-14:
I believe nothing can happen that will outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
For him I have accepted the loss of everything, and I look on everything as so much rubbish if only I can have Christ and be given a place in him.
I am no longer trying for perfection by my own efforts, the perfection that comes from the Law, but I want only the perfection that comes through faith in Christ, and is from God and based on faith.
All I want is to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and to share his sufferings by reproducing the pattern of his death. That is the way I can hope to take my place in the resurrection of the dead.
Not that I have become perfect yet: I have not yet won, but I am still running, trying to capture the prize for which Christ Jesus captured me.
I can assure you my brothers, I am far from thinking that I have already won. All I can say is that I forget the past and I strain ahead for what is still to come; I am racing for the finish, for the prize to which God calls us upwards to receive in Christ Jesus.