By Most Rev. Richard W. Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton


This picture shows one of the panels on the holy door at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. I have always loved it, and it speaks beautifully of the Good Shepherd reaching out to save the lost. That's the reason for hope.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Let Go

As we review prayerfully the Scripture passages from Sunday, we realize that the Lord is calling us to a lot of "letting go" of things that keep us from freedom and joy.

Let go of sin. The Gospel narrative is the familiar one of the woman caught in adultery. Jesus commands her to sin no more. Are we clinging tenaciously to any sinful patterns of behaviour or thought?

Let go of fear. In great love, Jesus forgives the woman. There is no sin so great as to lie beyond the reach of the Lord's mercy. Let's never be afraid to bring it to him through confession and know the joy of his forgiveness.

Let go of stones. The scribes and Pharisees told Jesus the law of Moses called for putting the adulterous woman to death by stoning. He replied with his famous: "Let the one who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." His words are a summons to let go not only of the stones but also of the self-righteousness and hateful intentions that led to picking up the stones in the first place.

Let go of resistance to Christ. The scribes and Pharisees were actually less concerned about the woman than they were about trapping Jesus. They simply used her as a pawn. It was yet one more expression of a total refusal of the revelation of God's mercy and love in Jesus Christ. May our hearts never be closed to him!

Let go of the past. This is implicit in the act of forgiveness by Jesus, and explicit in the first two readings. From Isaiah we heard: "Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old." St. Paul speaks of "forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead." The forgiveness of God is total and aims at fashioning or re-fashioning a new person. The past is just that - past. But, oh how we cling to it! We continue to condemn ourselves for past sins, even those we have brought to confession. Or we persist in our brooding over past wrongs done to us. Let go! For as long as we hold on to our past, it, in fact, maintains a terrible grip on us. Of course, we must learn from our past - it keeps us very humble! But we risk sinning against God's mercy and the totality of his love if we continue our firm grip on past wrongs and mistakes.

What makes all this "letting go" possible is a certain "holding on" to the truth of God's love revealed in Christ. Let's consider here something else we heard from St. Paul. Compared to knowing the love of God in Christ Jesus, he says, everything else is "rubbish!" Such insight is born of encounter with the person of Jesus and renders the "letting go" not only possible but also natural.

As we carry these Scripture passages into our week, let's ask the Lord to help us be free of all "clinging" that prevents us from living fully the Christian life.