Read the Homily

Remember a few years ago when the Red Sox were in last place? Sportswriters criticized the players for their lack of energy and effort. Fans were furious because they had to pay the highest price for major league baseball tickets, only to see the team fold and lose every game. Five months later, thousands of happy fans walk by my church proudly wearing their Red Sox hats and Fenway Park sweatshirts. They all looked excited about going to the game. I thought to myself, “don’t these people remember that the team last season was in last place in the division and that they suffered the greatest collapse in baseball history?” Why are they happy?  Answer: Because it is opening day. It is a new start. Last year’s record has been wiped out.

Let me ask you this. Who won the Super Bowl nine years ago?  The Baltimore Ravens.  I only know that because I had to look it up. Does anybody really care who won the Super Bowl nine years ago? Does anyone care that Wes Welker of the New England Patriots dropped the ball that same year on a third and long at the end of the fourth quarter during the AFC championships, and our Patriots did not advance to the Super Bowl?  No. Why? Because the Patriots have won three Super Bowls since then.  

Who is the happiest team at the end of the football season? That is an easy answer: The Super Bowl winners. Who is the second happiest team at the end of the football season? It is not the losers of the Super Bowl because they are not very happy. The second happiest team is the team with the worst record during the regular season; it is the team that was in the last place in their division. That is because they will have the best draft picks. Fans, who wore paper bags over their heads because they were embarrassed to be associated with losers, are now happy because they will have the best picks and can assemble a new team. They will have a new start and the past record is in the rearview mirror.

In the Gospel of John, there is the story of the woman caught in adultery. There are two sins in that story–adultery as well as an evil plot to trap Christ so they have a reason to put him to death. Jesus with his mercy and kindness lets them all go. So here is my question. What is the difference between the men who were plotting the death of the son of God and the woman caught in adultery? The men leave very unhappy because their trap was foiled. They leave and will continue to find a way to plot against Christ and put him to death. They experience no change and their horrible past stays with them. The woman, however, goes away very happy because she gets a new start in life, a new beginning. Her past is wiped away forever.

In the story, Jesus writes in the sand. Scholars have been scratching their heads for years trying to figure out what Jesus wrote. We will never know because Jesus wrote in the sand. If Jesus had used a permanent marker or tweeted the message, we would have had a record of what he wrote. And would be able to retrieve it from the internet cloud. But Jesus wrote in the sand, and with a swipe of the foot the record is gone forever and a clean slate is prepared so that you can rewrite the story.  

Everyone is happy on opening day. We who follow Christ are in a perpetual state of absolute happiness because we live in a kingdom where every day is a new start. We all have bad days, regrets, past records, and embarrassing moments. With Christ, old stats are removed. The past is erased making way for a new start. Everyone likes new things. We love to put on new clothes, the look of fresh paint, and freshly edged gardens. Christ gives us always a new start with His forgiveness and mercy.

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