“no need to recall the past..no need to think of what was done before.” ..for times we look back & feel guilty..or we look forward & feel “what difference can I make to help change the world?” .. ..for times we are distracted, even in these first moments of our Mass, & we miss the present moment & the glimpse of the kingfisher..
..when you live in the past, with its mistakes & regrets, I am not there..my name is not “I was”.. ; Lord have mercy ..when you live in the future, with its dreams & opportunities, I am not there..my name is not “I will be..” ; Christ have mercy ..when you live in his moment, this sacrament of the present moment, you will find me.. here & now..my name is “I am”.. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..in these last 2 wks of Lent stories & experience deepen, & in comes John the Evangelist.. the thinking mans gospel..a man & message of imagination..last wk story of prodigal son ; this wk story of prodigal daughter..we are denied crucial half sentence kept from us at start of story..extra bit says “they all went home & Jesus went to Mount of Olives” they all had homes to go to except Jesus..he knew what was coming so, although in Jerusalem each day in Temple to face music truth & as his struggle to remain faithful to his Jewish roots deepened, he left Ampleforth & spent each night in wood above the Half Mile..with Joel..remember Joel?..our local outcast..& on his return next morning to Temple he is introduced to another outcast..imagine how she felt having been caught [not just accused] of committing adultery?..what drove her to it?..what drove prodigal son to quit home & squander his birthright, & she her innocence?..what who was she seeking that she’d lost or never found at home?..for how long had she tried to make it work?..to make love & found it impossible..a young wife & young son each relationally & intimately infertile.. trapped in an invisible prison at a time & in a religion that if you made a huge mistake you had to lie on your bed & live with the consequences..& she was found; ”found out “ some may say sniffily..”this sister of yours was lost & is found”..& I suggest it isn’t just our Father who has got her back but us..instead of choosing to come home & face the music, as did prodigal son, who expected nothing more than to be faced with his fathers abject shame & disappointment, with his long long list of reasons/excuses a knife into his broken hearted father..she our prodigal sister is dragged home..a scapegoat..Jewish & Catholic history is littered with them; casualties victims of not ethnic but religious cleansing..mendicant tribes; flocks sheep goats wandered countryside set up tents for 2 wks until flocks ate up grass..& then moved on..when life in tribe got difficult tacky & unfaithful, tribal leader would call men women children together..he’d ask each to write on piece of paper a sin/indiscretion of note..he’d bring in a goat to middle of gathering & invite each person to tie their paper to fleece of goat..it looked ridiculous..& with large stick he’d thwack it on hind quarters & it would run off up Yearsley Bank,on towards York as fast as it could, never to be seen again..it was called an escape goat..a scapegoat ..& suddenly life & mood in tribe lifted as they felt relieved forgiven & restored; ”Master, this woman was caught in the act..we are ordered to condemn her to death by stoning.. what have you to say?” a classic scapegoat bless her..brought in to be slaughtered..& then instead victim meets victim..scapegoat meets scapegoat..”what have you to say?..& crowds shouted “Crucify him! Crucify him!”..woman unfaithful to her marriage; Jesus unfaithful to his religion..each compromising their life commitment vows promises; she to her husband, he to his Father..both at risk ruined..two people seeking love & intimacy ..I told you it was a gospel of imagination didn’t I ?..each lost in service of another..each a victim of a mob seeking to deflect truth away from their/our own episodes of infidelity lostness & imprisonment..a journey for them & potentially for us in this sacrament of the present moment, of encounter discovery & eventual redemption..the sniffy scribes & Pharisees then, & our Catholicism’s shabby treatment of the divorced & remarried now, as Pope Francis attempts almost single-handedly to reverse the injustices & abuse from the Curia; them, not in persona Christi but in persona elder brother “look all these years I’ve slaved for you, & never once did you offer me a kid to celebrate with my friends”.. goody two shoes, experts at squeaky clean Lenten resolutions earning their/our way into a place Heaven, whilst tragically infertile in a cold relationship with the divine..the intimate relationship of love-making between the woman & Jesus didn’t need words until it was all over..what do you think he wrote in sand first time?..& a second time?..what did he want her to know?..what does he want you to know in this “now” moment..a first in a lifetime present moment for many of us here is it not?..”has no one condemned you?” ..did you notice he looked up not down at woman?..he’d met his match at last..each in love & in merciful relationship with other..what words will you write in sand for your prodigal son daughter or partner? ..for sour workaholic in your family, or priest in your parish ?..& vitally for yourself, as you take courage to make for home later today for first time in 6 or 39 yrs?..remember last weekends Mass when many of you were moved to tears, realising story was then & is now your own story..”..& dwell in your grandfather’s love for ever”.. [5thSunLent YrC;Jn8;1-11]