Homily for Fifth Sunday of Lent – Year C

What impulse, what desire drives us? What is the longing of all longings? Hidden in the deepest marrow of our bones what is the ache that angstily seeks to be satisfied? Is it not to be intimately known and totally accepted? To be truly seen, and then completely received.

Saint John Paul II beautifully taught: Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it. – Redemptor Hominis.

It is from the dynamism of Trinitarian Love that all is created. The Three Divine Persons empty themselves for one another, and from their communal ecstasy pour forth the awesome creation of the world.  All creation must beat to this same Divine rhythm if it is to be itself. We are made from Love, for love, to love.

The woman caught in adultery is no exception. One can imagine the now deadened dreams she once dreamt of a perfect man to hold her. Buried deep within her hardened heart an ache still cried “See me! Accept me!” Yet how many times did she futilely grasp after false fantasies?

Lured by the Deceiver, he now accuses. The woman finds herself surrounded by men. Were any of these men the same ones she had sinned with before? She is used, tossed to the side, and now accused. The result of our First Parents’ sin is put on full display: “Your urge shall be for your husband, and he shall dominate over you.” (Gen 3:16)

But in the midst of fallen man stands the Redeemer. How gentle and submissive is Jesus’ response. The Perfect Man bows his head before the women. With the innocence of a child, He draws in the sand. He lowers his head not because he is ashamed to look at her sinfulness, but rather out of respect and holy reverence towards her true beauty.

Once the circle of accusing men vanish, the Perfect Man and woman stand alone. He raises his eyes and delights in her as once Adam rejoiced in Eve: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh!”(Gen 2:23) His non-judgmental gaze says one thing:  “I see you. I accept you.”

We are made from Love, for love, to love. And we are also redeemed by love. GK Chesterton keenly taught, that the great lesson of Beauty and the Beast is:  “that a thing must be loved before it is lovable.” And how true it is. We don’t make ourselves lovable and then are loved. Rather, it is the encounter of love that makes us lovable.  By allowing Christ to gaze upon our ugliness we are transformed. Have the courage to let yourself be seen, to let yourself be accepted, to let yourself be loved.

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Rev. Jegar Fickel was ordained in 2016 for the Diocese of Grand Rapids. He serves as the chaplain for the Newman Student Center of Ferris State University. Father Jegar has attended courses at TOBI, as well as served as a course chaplain.

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