HOMILY: Throwing Stones

5th Sunday of Lent | March 12/13, 2016

Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World. To see the archive of all his posts, just click hereSalesian Sermons

PROTIP: You can take a look at the Sunday readings here. This homily focuses on the first and Gospel readings.

So I must admit, I have always gotten a little too much pleasure out of this gospel.

There is just something about watching the Pharisees get what they deserve. You can’t help but root for Jesus in this Gospel.

I almost have the urge to yell, “You tell ’em Jesus!”

But for some reason this week, this gospel made me really uncomfortable.

Maybe because I saw myself a little too clearly in those Pharisees.

See, there is a student who can be a bit much to handle. He is often disruptive in class. He can have some mood swings. And he never stops talking.

So when he came in on Monday with an attitude, I whipped a stone: What is his problem? If he doesn’t fix it, he is just going home.

Then the principal said, “Can I speak to you?” He shared that this young man’s aunt was in the hospital and it wasn’t good. He had just discovered this news on the car ride in. And now I knew why he was off.

How humbled I felt in that moment.

And that moment got me thinking.

For if I am honest with myself, I am often throwing stones.

I whip one at a student when they don’t have their homework done and I presume it was because they were too lazy to do it the night before.

I whip one at a colleague who doesn’t show up for an event and I judge him for not having the same level of commitment that I do.

I whip one at a family member for a Facebook post that proves in my mind that they are a bigot.

I whip one at an Oblate brother after taking their remarks out of context.

And yet, I should know better. Not just because I am a priest and an Oblate and a Catholic.

But because I have been that woman who has stood before the angry crowd and received their stones.

I have been judged.

For being too Catholic and for not being Catholic enough.

For being too feminine.

For being arrogant and self righteous.

For failing . . . As a teacher and as a priest.

You would think that after experiencing the pain of being judged by another I would know better than to throw stones at another.

Which is why these readings are so powerful to me.

For in this war between judging and being judged, Jesus offers us another way. A different way. A new way.

A way in which our truths can be named and embraced and forgiven

A way In which each of us can be challenged to become better versions of ourselves.

A way In which we are called to judge ourselves instead of one another.

Friends, if we are honest we have all had those moments in which we have thrown our stones.

We have judged our family members and our friends. Our coworkers and complete strangers.

We have judged their politics and their religion, their prejudices and their personality, their mistakes and their background.

And in turn we have felt the sting of the stones that have been whipped at us.

But if we are too embrace a new way, then we too must be willing to leave our stones in the sand and walk.

Walk away from the stones that we have thrown and the stones that have been thrown at us.

Walk towards the God who is constantly doing something new, in our lives and in our world.

Walk with our Lord who stands beside us, inviting us to let go of our stones and embrace his cross.

For truly that is what Lent is all about.

May God be praised.

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