Year A: Third Sunday of Lent
Second Reading: Romans 5:1-2, 5-8
For many people, the death of Jesus is hard to contemplate and the fact that He died for us can be a source of guilt.
The problem may be rooted in insensitive teaching - where sin and guilt were used as weapons to impose belief. This reading, however, offers an antidote to this - Christ died for us - not to make us feel guilty - but so that we could be at peace with God.
Guilt - shame - regrets - all these can get in the way of our accepting forgiveness. So too can a strange sense of pride that our sin is beyond even Godís power to forgive. But St Paul states that Christ died for us while were still sinners - He did not wait for us all to be converted and repentant and perfect - so that He was dying for good and worthy people. He died for us when we needed it most - when we were held bound by sin.
It is because of this that we can look forward to future glory with God in heaven...
Even knowing this, we know that we are still prone to sin and selfishness - and have to look at the cross and the sacrifice of which it speaks - and acknowledge that we are still sinners.
This does not make Paulís words untrue - in fact, it heightens their meaning for us. We are still sinners - but Jesus died for us knowing that.
Week by week, we gather around a table - an altar. Each time we gather, we remember the words of Jesus as He took bread and wine - and consecrated them to His Body and Blood - My Body broken for you - My Blood shed for you. He did not impose conditions. Within hours, one of those who received Bread and Wine betrayed Him - another went on to deny Him. In neither case did Jesus deny them the sacrifice represented in the Bread and Wine - even knowing what they were going to do.
The gift to both was the same.
The difference lay in what they made of it - Judas could not believe that he could ever be forgiven for what he had done - and took his own life. Peter too was filled with remorse and guilt - but, when he heard of the empty tomb was one of the first to run to see what had happened...
The same gift - the death that brings us life -
We are faced with the same choice - to receive - or to reject - the love that offers so great a sacrifice...
What does it mean for me?
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