Saturday, May 14, 2022

Jesus-Caritas aka Jesus--Love

 

Homily for the 5th Sunday of Easter, May 15, 2022. Gospel of St. John 13:31-35. Theme: Jesus-Caritas, aka Jesus-Love 

Today in Rome, a man who lived the first part of his life only for himself and whose behavior was so immoral that it got him booted out of the French military, is being canonized a saint by Pope Francis. His name is Charles de Foucauld, a member of the wealthy and famous French nobility, but he spent most of his adult life known as Little Brother Charles of Jesus, giving witness to Christ in a lifestyle of poor simplicity among Arab nomads in the Sahara. And it’s so providential that he’s being declared an official saint on this day because today’s Gospel was the theme of his converted new life in Christ. 

In that Gospel, Jesus says to us, “I give you a NEW commandment…” so that might make us ask ourselves: what was the old commandment? Well, you might recall that the original commandment was this, “love your neighbor as yourself.” But you see, that old commandment was just a starting point that put us on the same playing field as most other religions. The prophets of Judaism taught this kind of love and we see in the Old Testament. Islam embraces this kind of love in its solemn duty of sacred hospitality. But all of these expressions of loving others as oneself keep it on the purely human level. 

However, Jesus calls those who follow him to aim higher. In Biblical language, “to follow” someone means to imitate them. Not in their mannerisms nor the way they dress or speak, but in how they think and how they act. In other words, it means to have the same mind, the same type of outlook, the same sort of attitude. And so for the Christian, to love as Jesus loves means to go beyond the original commandment. It means to love others MORE than we love ourselves and to prove it by our actions. 

This is exactly what Charles de Foucauld set out to do when he left France to live the Gospel among the Moslems of Morocco and Algeria. Inspired by Jesus’ words that people would know what it means to be Christian by seeing love-in-action, he made this the entire theme, program and mission of his life. He called himself the Universal Brother accepting all who came to him and making his home and chapel a place of hospitality and welcome. He took the original commandant of love and through his union with Jesus, especially in the Eucharist, sought to make it supernatural, transforming human-love into Jesus-love. As a matter of fact his personal motto in Latin was “Jesus-Caritas”, which means “Jesus-Love”. 

And to be honest, this is a love which is not easily understood by many. Because from our limited and all too often selfish point of view, Jesus-Love is crazy love, foolish love. It’s a love that doesn’t make sense apart from Christ. Jesus-love doesn’t focus on what it will cost the lover, the giver. To love as Jesus loves means that our love must be unconditional. To love as Jesus loves means that our love must be sacrificial. To love as Jesus loves means that our love must be forgiving. 

To say that Jesus-Love is unconditional means that it’s not attached to a list of what others must be like or act like before we will be loving towards them. Notice in the Gospels how Jesus met with, socialized with and helped all who came to him with sincere hearts no matter if they were Jew or Gentile, foreigner or countryman, saint or sinner, friend or foe. Jesus-love encompasses all. 

To call Jesus-Love love sacrificial means that it is unselfish and puts the welfare of others before one’s own. Now, for us frail human beings, it’s a struggle to love like that, and it’s especially difficult to keep on doing so consistently! However, in Christ it can indeed be done because his Spirit empowers us to do things that we didn't think we were ever capable of doing. 

Lastly, Jesus-Love must be forgiving. Forgiving doesn’t mean that the bad things people have done to us are insignificant or even forgotten. It means that we refuse to allow their evil actions to master us and have the last word in our lives and relationships. We refuse to make ourselves victims of hatred and ambassadors of revenge. It means that we will do our best to love like Jesus loves no matter how others act towards us because we are called and empowered to live on a higher plane. 

Notice that Jesus gave us his new commandment of love within the context of the Last Supper. And his words about being glorified bring us to his crucifixion which will lead to resurrection. How fitting it is that the commandment of love is connected to both of these things because, as St. Charles of Jesus teaches us, the Eucharist is what fuels Jesus-Love within us and the Passion is where we see it lived out in its stark reality. The figure of Jesus crucified, with his arms outstretched and his pierced heart opened, is the most powerful example we have to urge us on to love unconditionally, to sacrifice freely, and to forgive humbly. If we have this Jesus-Love within us like St. Charles de Foucauld, we can become universal brothers and sisters to those who come into our lives, witnessing to Jesus and his Gospel by our kindness and hospitality.

St.Charles of Jesus de Foucauld
1858-1916


Sunday, May 8, 2022

Praise and Honor to Mary our Mother!

 

A Homily for Mother's Day on Mary our Mother, May 8, 2022. 

First of all, Happy Mother’s Day to the ladies in our congregation, and thank you for saying yes to life. Thank you for being witnesses to life. There is a spiritual link between each of you and the Blessed Mother, between your maternity and hers, and so how fitting it is that we crown her image in our church today. 

Our Catholic Faith has always honored the Motherhood of Mary as something precious that allowed her to know and love Jesus more than anyone else. Jesus and Mary shared a deep interpersonal bond from the first-time she held that precious Infant in her arms at Bethlehem to the last time that she held Him, bloody and lifeless, on Mount Calvary. And death has not broken that bond because, as Easter shows and promises us, death is not an end to our lives but simply a change in their expression and mode of existence. 

We love and honor her because Jesus loved her and honored her. Following the example of the Lord, who entrusted himself to Mary in his dependent humanity, we ask her to mother us and teach us to walk in the ways of God. Mary’s yes to motherhood made it possible for Christ to redeem us from the inside out, by becoming one of us, healing our wounded humanity by his divinity. Without Mary’s free and generous consent, this God-becoming-man event could not have happened. Without Mary’s motherhood, we would not be redeemed because it was her yes that opened the pathway to earth for the Savior of Mankind. The plain and simple fact is that without Mary’s motherhood, we would not be Christians, the adopted sons and daughters of God. 

Even though Mary’s Son was like no other, this did not spare her from the struggles and sufferings of motherhood that many of you know so well. These began for her in the days of her pregnancy when she had to face the judgmental stares of her neighbors. And it continued after the Lord’s birth when the Holy Family had to escape into Egypt to save the Holy Infant’s life. And what mother couldn’t agonize with Mary over the mysterious disappearance of her Son for three very long days? 

Finally, imagine how difficult it must have been for Mary when the time came for her only Child to leave home and begin his mission. Joseph had already died and so surely Jesus was the center of her home, the bright spot of her day. And yet, having the desire that all mothers have for their children to do what they were meant to do with their lives, Mary doesn’t stand in his way, she lets go of him because that’s what a mother’s love does. 

I am sure that Mary also felt that his love and presence was not something to be kept to all to herself, to be hoarded for herself. She wanted everyone to know and experience the great love, the tender mercy and the gentle compassion of her Son. And Mary wants each one of us to know and experience these things as well. She makes this possible for us through her mission as the Blessed Mother of Christians. Just as she taught and formed Jesus in his humanity, so she offers to teach and form us in our Christianity. By her motherly prayers for us, she will guide us to the people we need to meet, the things we need to learn and the ways we need to change in order to live as true disciples of her Son. 

However, just as Jesus does not force anyone to accept him as their Lord and Savior, so he does not force anyone to accept Mary as their spiritual mother. This is another one of God's free gifts. All we have to do to unwrap it and use it is to ask her, invite her, to be a mother in our lives, and then open ourselves up to her material direction and influence. The prayers which we address to her, the hymns that we sing in her honor, and the crown we place upon her head will only be truly meaningful if they represent this kind of love and this kind of praise for her that Jesus wants us to have residing within our hearts.



Saturday, April 30, 2022

Never the Same Again

 

Homily for the 3rd Sunday of Easter, May 1, 2022. Gospel – John 21:1-19. Theme: Never the Same Again 

In today’s Gospel we see seven of the Apostles returning to how they were before they had been drawn to follow a charismatic preacher named Jesus of Nazareth. Trying to process and make sense of all that happened to him and to them over the first Easter weekend overwhelms them. And so, they try to go back to how they lived. They try to act as if their lives had never been deeply touched and changed by him. But inside each one of them is a nagging realization that things can never ever be the same again.  

Sometimes I think we can be just like them. We have personal religious experiences or moments of enlightenment that boost our faith in Christ and increase our devotion. But then we also have the concerns and responsibilities of everyday life, with times of difficulty or confusion when the Lord seems so far away. And so, like those disciples, life goes on for us and it's back to our daily routine. Yet, inside the hearts of we who believe, there is that same deep down nagging feeling that things can never ever be the same again. 

 Like those disciples at the seashore we cannot just dismiss all that we have learned about Jesus. We are unable to simply write off his death as one of those things that happen under cruel Roman oppression. We can’t just ignore the eye-witness testimonies of those who saw Christ after the Resurrection and consider them fairy tales. They touched him. They ate with him. They spoke with him. And yes, they even fished with him. And as much as we might want to just move on with our lives and not be bothered by the moral demands of Christianity, we just can’t do it. Somehow, we’ve been deeply touched by him and are forever marked as his. Something keeps calling us back. 

But just as Christ knew the struggle to believe that was going through the minds and hearts of the disciples, so he knows what is going on within us as well. Moved by the compassionate love of friendship, he comes to us as he came to them and he holds out to us what he held out to them: a way to move forward. He points us to a pathway out of confusion and doubt that is paved with faith. Christian faith isn’t wishful thinking or just hoping something is true. It is trust in a real Person, Jesus of Nazareth, crucified Savior and risen Lord. It is a faith based upon historical facts and personal witnesses, not on fabricated stories. It is a faith that is confirmed by the lives of the Apostles and the powerful testimonies they gave as changed men and eventually, as martyrs. 

But they weren’t originally such heroic men! After the Last Supper they abandoned their Lord and two of them even denied or betrayed him. From Good Friday on they lived as cowards, hidden away and locked in a house in Jerusalem, shaking with fear whenever someone knocked at their door. Judas the Betrayer had killed himself. Thomas the Doubter had temporarily left their company and adamantly refused to believe. And the others? Well…as today’s Gospel tells us, they went fishing and tried to forget. But then something happened, everything changed! 

Suddenly, these same men are seen going through the streets of Jerusalem, praising out loud the Name of Jesus and calling all who heard them to repent! We heard all about this in today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, which is the Church’s first history book. They are no longer afraid. They are no longer unbelieving. What happened? Why this sudden 180 degree turn in their lives? 

They had experienced a series of encounters with Jesus, no longer dead but totally alive…and even more alive than he had ever been before! No longer limited by the earthly parameters of his humanity, the Risen Lord was now able pass through solid walls and locked doors, yet he had a body that could be seen and touched. Being heavenly and glorified, he could travel at the speed of thought - being seen in several places at the same time - yet was also able to sit with them around a charcoal fire on a beach and eat breakfast. This was no ordinary mortal man. This was no everyday religious teacher. 

The Resurrection showed the disciples - and shows us today - that Jesus of Nazareth was precisely who he said he was: Son of God, Savior of humanity, Lord of Eternal Life. And it confirms that his teaching is more than simply human wisdom, but the very Word of God. The disciples began to learn all of this and so much more, sitting on that beach around that fire and sharing a meal with Christ. 

And he does the same thing for us today as we gather as a community around the fire of the Holy Spirit, to hear his Word and eat his Heavenly Food at the Sacred Meal of the Eucharist. It is these encounters with the Risen Christ at Mass that will enable us to process and make sense out of all that we have heard and learned about him. If we come to Mass with this awareness, with hearts eager to worship, lives desiring to follow Christ, and minds open to his Word, then our faith in him will be enlightened, our trust in him will be deepened, and our love for him will grow.






Sunday, April 24, 2022

The Three Easter Gifts of Mercy

 

Homily for the Octave of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, April 24, 2022. The Gospel of St. John 20:19-31. Theme: The Three Easter Gifts of Mercy 

In the year 2000, Pope St. John Paul II declared the Second Sunday of Easter to be celebrated as “Divine Mercy Sunday”. He did this to fulfill a request made by Jesus through the spiritual experiences of St. Faustina Kowalska, a 20th century Polish nun and mystic. In addition to Mercy Sunday, Jesus also asked that a special image of himself be painted and distributed (point out picture) along with a short prayer, “Jesus I trust in You.” 

Jesus told Sister Faustina that he wanted to reawaken in his Church a renewed awareness of his love for every person. He lamented that so many found it difficult to draw near to him because of the preaching of the time which made people feel as if they were too sinful and unworthy of a relationship with Christ. But told her that the opposite was actually true. He said that the greater a sinner a person is, the greater is that person’s claim to his mercy. He said that he is drawn to wounded, powerless and struggling hearts the way iron shavings are irresistibly attracted to a magnet. We clearly see this kind of a merciful Jesus in today’s Gospel, wherein St. John shares with us the memory of his personal experiences of the very first Easter week. 

The story opens with the Apostles huddled together in a securely locked house. They are filled with fear and terrified that what happened to Jesus was going to happen to them. But you know, they were also trapped in their own sinfulness, in their own remorse over how they had abandoned Jesus. They needed to be set free not only physically from that room but also spiritually from what they had done.

Then, suddenly and inexplicably, the Risen Lord appears in their midst. It’s the first time they have seen him since the night of the Last Supper. What strikes me so much about this experience is that Christ does not say one word about how they had treated him. He doesn’t even make the slightest reference to their infidelity and abandonment. Instead, he reaches out to them with words of pardon and peace. No condemnation, just mercy. And they, having been deeply touched by this mercy, are changed men from the inside out! They have been given new life, a spiritually resurrected life, and so the Gospel tells us that they rejoice and believe! 

The story then moves fast forward a week to the Sunday after Easter, to what we now call Divine Mercy Sunday. Jesus suddenly appears among them again and St. John emphasizes three things he remembers about this event: the uplifting presence of the Risen Jesus, the power emanating from his holy wounds, and the invitation to trust in him. Pope Francis has called these three things the “Easter gifts of mercy” and he reminds us that Jesus still offers these gifts to each one of us today. 

The first Easter gift of mercy is the uplifting presence of the Risen Lord. Just as nothing stopped Jesus from entering into the locked room, so nothing - not even our worst sins - can prevent him from stepping into our lives. He comes to each one of us just as he came to those dejected disciples, bringing pardon and peace, offering a chance to be healed of sin and freed from fear. This presence of Christ can come to us in a spiritual way through the Divine Mercy image. We can enshrine it in our homes as a reminder that he is always with us. We can ponder it and see his hand raised in blessing us. Jesus promised St. Faustina that many graces and blessings would flow from prayer before this image which he called a “vessel of mercy”. 

The second Easter gift of mercy are the wounds of Christ. It was the power of these sacred wounds that brought about a conversion within Thomas, transforming him from a doubter into a firm believer. And these same glorious wounds are available to us for our own conversion. They are for what they were for Thomas: proof of Christ’s deep love for us, a love that poured itself out to the very end. And so these wounds - now risen and glorious - cause us to rejoice! They encourage and invite us to let go of our sins, to accept mercy and experience an interior resurrection to new life with God. This is why the wounds of Jesus, especially the one radiating light from his pierced heart, are so prominent in the image of Divine Mercy. 

The third Easter gift of mercy is the invitation to trust in Jesus. This is what Jesus asked of Thomas when he told him to “not be unbelieving, but believe.”. You see, in the original Greek language of the gospels, the very same word that means “believe” also means “trust”. Jesus is telling Thomas - and each one of us - to not be doubters, but to simply just place our trust in him. Trust in Jesus, faith in him as the truly Risen Lord, enabled Thomas to become a changed man, a new person. Trust is ultimately the real proof of our love for someone and this is why the Divine Mercy image has the prayer, “Jesus, I trust in You!” inscribed upon it. It is a short prayer that we all can memorize and repeat often from the heart to express our faith and love for the Lord. 

Filled with mercy and fueled by trust in Jesus, Thomas went on to become one of the greatest of the twelve apostles. He carried the Good News of the Resurrection further in the known world than any of the others because he was totally on fire for Christ! History informs us that he brought the Gospel all the way from Jerusalem to India where he was martyred for Christ, and to this day the believers there are known as the “St. Thomas Christians”. 

The presence of the Risen Jesus, the power of his sacred wounds, and the decision to trust him all sum up for us the message of Easter and the message of Divine Mercy Sunday. These gifts from God can totally transform us and enable us to finally become the people he created us to be. This was the experience of Thomas and it is meant to be the experience for each one of us as we live out our Christian journey through life.





Saturday, April 16, 2022

The Good News of Resurrection

 

Homily for Easter, Gospel of St. John 20:1-9. Theme: The Good News of Resurrection 

As we heard in today’s Gospel, the tomb of Jesus was found empty. And in other Easter stories we learn how angels delivered the startling news that Jesus was risen to the holy women who had come to the tomb. We are told that Mary Magdalen brings this incredible news of Resurrection to Peter and John. We also hear how many disciples encounter the Risen Lord and share with others the news of their experiences. 

However, it takes more than just hearing to truly enter into what the Resurrection means. There were a lot of people in Jerusalem for the Passover on that momentous first Easter morning. And for most, the news of Resurrection was just crazy gossip in the marketplace. It never affected their lives. It never made a difference. But for others, this news of Resurrection changed them from the inside out and they would never be the same. And this variable reaction to the news of Resurrection still happens today. 

There are those who hear the Good News of Resurrection yet it remains for them nothing more than a story to be told and retold every Easter. It never really touches their lives. And then there are others who hear the news of the empty tomb and who ponder the experiences of those who interacted with the Risen Lord in person. These people experience a hope beyond hope that leaps up from deep within them and often they can barely explain how it is that they came to believe and are changed! 

Once we take a leap in faith and trust in the Risen Lord, he opens our minds to the truth about who he is and he sets us free from the inside out. We begin to see that there really is a much bigger picture to the reality of our existence than only what we experience here on planet Earth. We profess faith in eternal life after death, knowing that it is not just a ‘maybe” or a “hope so”. That it’s not just fantasy nor wishful thinking. We are convinced of this reality because of that Empty Tomb in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago! 

Through faith in the Risen Lord, we are not only freed from death’s dark domain, but also from its companion which is paralyzing fear, a fear we have sadly seen way too much of in these days. We who trust in Jesus risen from the tomb refuse to give into such fear. We refuse to give it a significant place in our lives. We who believe in the power of Easter refuse to live and act as if we were still under the powers of darkness and death. We are not like those who live in such fear and who act as if death still has the last word over us. Those who do not believe become silent in the face of death, not knowing what to say, acting as if they are still its victims, its captives. They need to know that they do not have to remain frozen in that fear. 

 But we who are Christian are not silent in the face of fear and death. We have been told the Good News of the Empty Tomb. We have been told the testimony of Mary Magdalene and the Apostles. We refuse to be silenced because we know what to say! And so, we speak out and we even sing aloud: Christ is risen! Alleluia! Death has been conquered once for all! Alleluia!



Saturday, April 9, 2022

What Kind of Savior Do You Expect?

 

Homily for Palm Sunday, April 10, 2022. Gospel of St. Luke 19:28-40. Theme: What Kind of Savior Do You Expect? 

The Triumphant Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday is such an intriguing event that reveals the fickle nature of the human heart. The crowd went from literally giving Him a King’s welcome, to screaming out for his execution just a few days later on Good Friday. However, I think we have to be careful about pointing fingers and judging that crowd. After all, we have the advantage of hindsight. We know who Christ really was and we know how the whole story ended! 

But for a moment let’s try and put ourselves in their place. For centuries, the Jewish people had passed on prophecies about the Messiah, the Christ, God’s Anointed One. They told and retold hopeful stories of how he would be a mighty Warrior, a national Hero, a powerful King. He was supposed to be their Rescuer and Liberator who would victoriously eject the cruel Roman oppressors from the Promised Land. That crowd of people looked forward to the day when the Christ would bring to Israel all that they had been praying for and imagined. It was to be the best and happiest time of their lives as a nation, as God’s people. 

But when they learned that Jesus of Nazareth, whom many thought might be the Christ, had been taken prisoner and tortured by the enemy, all their hopes for him as the Hero-King were trashed. Turns out He wasn’t their hoped-for Promised One after all. Or to put it better, turns out he wasn’t the kind of Messiah, the kind of Liberating Savior, that they had wanted, that they were expecting. You see, their idea of liberation and their expectations for happiness were limited to worldly success and political nationalism. 

For centuries, their leaders had been reading and interpreting the Scriptures about the Messiah in a way that they thought best. They were searching the Scriptures for what they wanted to see in them. They were praying to God for what they wanted to happen in their nation, rather than asking that his Kingdom come, whatever that might look like. It’s so very easy for us to judge and condemn the screaming crowd of Jerusalem. And yet…before we point that finger at them…we have to stop and examine our own attitudes towards Jesus and how he acts in our lives. We have to ask ourselves quite honestly if we also read and interpret God's Word in our favor, seeing in it only what we want to see, and ignoring the things that we prefer not to hear. Do we really mean it when we pray in the Our Father for God’s will to be done in our lives? 

Let’s each ask ourselves: Have I ever shaken a fist at God, like the people in that crowd, because he wasn’t acting like the kind of Savior I expected and wanted Him to be in my life? Have I grumbled about Him because he was not carrying out the plans I intended, the hopes I set my heart on? Do I trust him enough to be at peace in every circumstance, and especially regarding those that are out of my control, knowing that he has me safely in the palm of his hand, in the recesses of his heart? 

As we celebrate Palm Sunday and proceed further into Holy Week, let’s pray for the grace to be faithful to Christ during these most special days of the year and, of course, for all our lives. 

Let’s thank Jesus for the most precious Gift of his Body and Blood in the Eucharist, which he gave us on that first Holy Thursday, and through which we remain united with him and with one another. 

Let’s venerate the holy and life-giving Cross of Jesus in our hearts, as well as in our liturgy on Good Friday with devotion and confidence, remembering that through the holy cross he has set free from our sins. 

And let’s ask the gloriously Risen Christ to bless us with a special Easter gift of trust in him, so that we might remain faithful to him and allow God to just be God in our lives no matter what that might look like, no matter how things may seem, confident that in the end all things will work out for our good, even if we don’t see it that way right now.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Renovated Not Condemned

 

Homily for the 5th Sunday of Lent, April 3, 2022. Gospel of St. John 8:1-11. Theme: Renovated Not Condemned 

As I was praying over today’s gospel asking the Holy Spirit for some insight, I suddenly found myself thinking about the home improvement kind of shows that I like to watch. The designers and carpenters on those shows are amazing fixer-uppers with a real gift of being able to look beyond the mess and destruction of a run-down house and seeing its possibilities. They can tell if a house should be disregarded and condemned or if it has the possibility of being renovated and restored. I know that’s a pretty random thought to have while praying, but I think you’ll see that there’s actually a connection after all! 

It dawned on me that those shows can be a good metaphor to understand today’s Gospel. Jesus, the Carpenter from Nazareth, is the Great Fixer-Upper who looks beyond the outside street appeal of who we are, or who we pretend to be, and peers into our very depths. He sees down to the bare bones of our structure. He knows that many of us are like houses that have endured quite a lot of wear and tear over the years; terribly ignored, wrongfully mistreated and shamefully broken down, with only the structure remaining salvageable. Others may not have had it so bad but still need remodeling to become like new again. But all of us - without exception - need some kind of work to be done, so that we can become the persons God created us to be and to fully enjoy the life God has given us to live. 

Jesus came to planet Earth precisely to heal what is sick, to drive out what is evil, and to fix what is broken. He has both a burning desire and the divine power to do this for us, if we allow Him. So, how can we let Jesus be this Master Carpenter and bring about a beautiful transformation? I think we can get a good idea by looking at the woman caught in adultery and following her example. Like her, we must personally encounter Jesus and own up to what we have done, to what we have allowed ourselves to become. And then humbly follow his words that will lead us to a better life, a happier heart, a more peaceful and serene conscience. He says to her and to us, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.” Now that’s a tall order but we can do it with and in Christ through prayer, Confession and the Eucharist. 

Prayer is simply talking with Jesus from the heart and speaking plainly about what’s on our minds, what’s burdening our souls, what we are struggling with in our lives. We spend some time reflectively reading his Word to us in the Gospels where he gives us light and direction. We ask for the spiritual strength to live his Word and allow it to transform us from the inside out. 

This commitment to daily prayer will lead us to the healing grace of Confession. When the walls of a house are opened up you never know what you’re going to find behind them. Similarly, when we tear down the walls we have built up in our lives and open our hearts to Christ, we are bound to discover behaviors and attitudes that need to be fixed, rewired and repaired. We bring these hurts and wounds to the merciful heart of Jesus in prayer, and if they are more serious sins we admit them in Confession. By doing so we will grow, over time, in the healing and freedom that he offers us. 

Above all we must keep coming to Christ who is our holy and life-giving power-source in the Eucharist. As Pope Francis teaches us Holy Communion is not a gold star for perfect conduct offered to saintly people. Quite the opposite, this awesome Sacrament of Christ’s Risen Body and Blood is medicine for the sick, healing balm for the wounded, and strength for the weak. During this most intimate encounter with him, we hand over and surrender all of our pain, all of our brokenness, all our sins. He will know what to do with them. We simply need to trust. 

Since we see from today’s story how compassionate and forgiving Christ is, why then, do we continue to hold onto our sins instead of accepting his forgiveness? And when we are tempted to judge and condemn others, I think we need to hear Jesus saying to us something similar to what he said to the accusers of that woman: "Let those of you who are without sin be the first to judge or condemn another." And then hopefully we will turn away from judging and condemning others, placing their brokenness and ours into the tender care of the One who came to save us all.