Weekly Homily from Father Jim Hogan for March 17, 2013

• Isaiah 43:16-21 • Philippians 3:8-14 • John 8:1-11 • 5 Lent C ’13 • 

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I was never a fan of Dennis Rodman.  He is a skilled basketball player.  Judging him by his appearance and behavior I was dubious about his character.  Recent news reports about him remind me we know so little about other people, even those closest to us.  When I saw those reports of him visiting with the Supreme Leader of North Korea I was amazed at the relaxed nature of their visit.  Not only were they visiting but seem to have established a significant friendship. Perhaps his visit to North Koreas created better diplomatic vibes than all our official,  “hard-nosed” threatening diplomacy.

Observing Dennis Rodman reminds me I know so little about others!  The initial focus of the story in our gospel today is the woman caught in adultery. We know nothing about her beyond the accusation.  This story, found only in the gospel of John, describes a moment of interpersonal confrontation.  Some Scribes and Pharisees publicly attempt to trap Jesus into saying something wrong or unlawful.

Throughout the gospels it is clear that Jesus is a sensitive human being. In a similar situation, I would be angry with the violence done to the woman and angry about their insincerity.  If my presumption is correct, his immediate response to the accusers would have been the same.

John tells us, “Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground.”  What did he write?  Perhaps nothing.  Perhaps he simply took a few deep breaths to calm his emotional response. With a calm soul he could sublimate the powerful energy of that primal instinct of anger and move beyond the separation created by anger. He reached out to them with respect, intentionally loving both her accusers and the woman. That is the way of Jesus.  That is the power of love

This gospel prompts me to ask, how can we have productive conversations with others, even when, or especially when we disagree? Here are two hot-button issues in which serious disagreement often occur: gun control and climate change.

In our world today there is an abundance of trash food available for our bodies and for our minds and souls.   Not everyone is fed, nourished and challenged by the life and teaching of Jesus as we are.  Life is unpredictable and easily bewilders us. Many hearts are frozen over with thick layers of fear, bewilderment and loneliness. We all grope our way though life with the tiny candle of what we know. With such issues emotion quickly clicks in and folks become confrontational. How can we have productive conversations about such issues?  It helps me to remember we know so little about others!

We actually are preparing for productive conversations about hot-button issues during this season of Lent, during the time we set aside for daily prayer and contemplation, and every time we gather to celebrate Eucharist.  Lent, daily prayer and Eucharist keep us aware of the presence of God in all people. These keep us mindful of the words and example of Jesus.  “Love one another.  Love your enemy as yourself.  Do good to those who harm you.”  We know we are the Living Body of Christ, called and sent to love all those we will meet and interact with each day.

Not everyone is so privileged.  Because of Christ my perspective about many issues is simply not the same as the perspective of others. My relationship with Christ keeps me relatively free to love and prepares me to converse about “hot-button” issues with a calm soul.  That is the power of love.  When emotion clicks in it helps me to remember we know so little about others!

Consider this old fable.  “A man went for a walk wearing his overcoat.  The wind and the sun had a game with each other.  Each claimed it could persuade the man to remove his coat.  The wind tried first.  It blew and blew and tried its hardest to blow the man’s coat away, but he just pulled his coal more tightly around himself.   Then the sun came out and simply by shining down, warmed up the man so much that he quite naturally took off his coat.”  That is the way of Jesus.  That is the power of love! 

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3 Responses to Weekly Homily from Father Jim Hogan for March 17, 2013

  1. Judy Sweeney says:

    Thanks, Jim! Great reflection.

  2. Indeed, though so many exclude me from their idea of church, it troubles me not, as my notion of Church Includes them.

  3. I simply enjoy reading the homilies of Rev. Father Hogan. He has the ability to exemplify and to clarify the central idea expressed in the scripture readings by using examples which are familiar to daily life. I wish all homilies should be as well prepared as these ones written and delivered by him. Oftentimes I get bored listening to homilies on Sundays in my parish simply because it is just a repetition of what is expressed in the gospel, nothing that would bring it down to what the congregation can contemplate on and understand what the message is all about. And to top it all, the delivery leaves everyone yawning, just waiting for him to finish.

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