Sunday, March 11, 2018

March 11 - Fourth Sunday of Lent

4th Sunday of Lent – March 11, 2018

I –The wrath and the mercy of the Lord are revealed in the exile and liberation of his people.
R –Let my tongue be silenced, if I ever forget you!
II – Though dead in your transgressions, by grace you have been saved.
A – God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.
G –God sent his Son so that the world might be saved through him.

+ It is part of the “comfort culture” that we live in - the quicker, easier, softer way that most everyone looks for these days - to dismiss a very important part of the reality of God the Father that ought not to be overlooked: and that is his complete justice! We are quick to jump on the compassion and mercy bandwagon with God; but mercy and compassion and forgiveness come as a result of transgression: it was the devastating sin of our first parents that demanded an enormous act of justice that involved a horrifying death of a human being; but not just any human being: it required the human death of God’s own Son: Jesus the Christ.

All throughout the pages of the Old Testament we see over and over again how – in trying to form Abraham’s descendants in faith into a real and cohesive family, God had to be strict with them, he had to show them the hand of his displeasure, the hand of his anger many times – because nothing else seemed to work. Sending prophets and spokesmen and kings just left the people in even more disarray – and so we see in the first reading today that God has to send his people away from the land and home that he gave them, and to punish them: to have them be ruled over by their enemies, the Babylonians. This was a very humiliating thing for the Jews: but it was necessary so that God could convince the people of his MERCY, of his willingness to FORGIVE, once they came to realize their error, to establish true and LIBERATING JUSTICE between himself and them for LOVE OF THEM.

Yes, God sent them away, but then he had mercy and called them back from exile, and he told King Cyrus to begin rebuilding the temple to his honor in Jerusalem. Both for the Jewish people and for us, the lesson to learn is to not ever again forget God’s words and his acts of compassion and his acts of love done for our salvation. It displeases God very much to have to discipline his children, but as any parent would, he does it, and always will do it, when needed.  It’s his justice!

The second reading today wonderfully tells us of our full restoration in Christ – the grace Christ bought for us on Calvary gives us immeasurable riches and elevates us to a kind of existence that makes us almost float above all the silliness and nonsense that always seems to be going on in the world!

Yes, Jesus was raised up for us – so that we could be free of our sins, and heirs of everlasting life deep in the heart of God – may we always look up and see the face of Christ in the Crucifix and know that we are loved beyond all telling! With this image as our guide we will always walk in light, we will always know where we are going, and we will always know how to get there!

Let us rejoice this day, not only because Lent is more than half-way over, but because our transformation into the image of Christ is much more apparent than it was at the beginning of Lent! We are more loved, we are more forgiven, and we are more exalted because of our poverty and lowliness than ever before!


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