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Bishop's Homily for the Fifth Sunday of Lent

April 3, 2022

[Holy Cross Church, Kalaheo; St. Catherine Church, Kapaa (Confirmation & First Communion]

Maybe he drew a picture of a tower.  Maybe he wrote a number, like 7,831.  Maybe he drew a half-moon with a star over it.  We really do not know what Jesus wrote on the ground when this scenario of the woman caught in adultery was presented to him.  Perhaps they all thought he was just ignoring them and writing non-sense on the ground.  But after he got up and said, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Then he bent down and started drawing and writing more.  At that point, the oldest man looked down at the tower Jesus had drawn and suddenly realized it was a picture of the very tower where he had secretly beat up a debtor and left him there half-dead.  The second man looked at the number 7,831 and with astonishment realized it was the exact amount of money he had stolen from his boss.  The third one looked at the half-moon with the star over it and realized that was a decoration on the wall of the room where he had committed adultery himself.  Jesus did not expose any of their sins, except to the ones who had sinned, and eventually they all slinked away.  Then he forgave the woman who was left there with him – not because she did not sin, which she clearly did, but because he had come not to condemn but to give life.

Jesus, of course, wants us to do as he did back then.  He takes sin seriously, and warns that we could lose the gift of eternal life itself if we do not repent.  But he wants us to focus on our own sins, and not those of others, because we have enough work to do on ourselves.

What Jesus did was very wise and clever, and he wants to give us the same gift of wisdom that guides him.  So he gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit, and he does that primarily in the sacrament of Confirmation.  We are sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit so that something new can happen.  We no longer think with our own logic, as did those who took that woman to Jesus, but with the logic of God, who often sees things in a very different way.  And so the Holy Spirit gives us the gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, and so on, so that we can think not a mere human beings do, but as God himself does.  It is like he is making springs of water rise up in the desert, so that he may use us to quench the thirst of the world for truth, and justice and right.

But one of the new ways of understanding reality through the gift of the Holy Spirit is to understand that Jesus is not just someone who lived long ago, far away, and “once upon a time.”  He is risen from the dead, and he is here with us now to guide us, to strengthen us, to be our light, and most of all to love us.  But where is he?  If we allow the Holy Spirit to take over, we will understand that Jesus just spoke to us when the Scriptures were proclaimed.  Yes, we heard the lectors and the deacon proclaim the Scriptures, but they were only the voice.  The Word is Jesus himself, and he really speaks to us today when we listen to him in the Scriptures.  This is why every Mass involves the Word of God and why we are encouraged to read the Bible every day.  Jesus is the living Word of God, and we hear his voice in the Bible, the Sacred Scriptures.  When we are thirsty, they can be the living water we need so much.

But the Holy Spirit is even more amazing!  In a few moments, we will take ordinary bread and wine, and through the Prayer of Thanksgiving, the Eucharistic Prayer prayed by the priest for all of us, the Holy Spirit will change them substantially.  They will become the Body and Blood of Christ himself.  The Lord, the Redeemer, will be physically present on the altar, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity.  But he does not stay on the altar.  He enters us, when we take him into ourselves in Holy Communion.  He makes us a part of his living Body so that he can continue to be present in the world; so that he can be in your house, at your school, where you work.  He wants to make the world new and to refresh it with his life-giving love, just as water refreshes the desert.  And he does so by entering into a holy communion with us.

Just as those people to took the sinful woman to Jesus were blind to their own sins until Jesus opened their eyes, so Jesus wants to open our eyes to see our own sins, so that we can repent, change, and be renewed by his merciful, forgiving love.  He is the living Bread come down from heaven, because he wants to live with us wherever we are, and give us such joy in him that we will want nothing more than to be with him forever in heaven.