Fourth Sunday of Lent
2 Chronicles 36: 14-16, 19-23
Ephesians 2: 4-10
John 3: 14-21
We now have reached the midpoint of Lent and God invites the Church (Jerusalem) to ”Rejoice!” And we, the members of the Church, are also to “Be joyful…/to exult and be satisfied at her consoling breast”. (Entrance Antiphon for this Laetare Sunday). On this day we are called to anticipate the paschal mystery we will celebrate during the three days of the Triduum and let bright light of Easter break through the shadows of Lent. The deep purple of our Lenten vestments are lightened to the color of rose for this one day.
The passage from the second Book of Chronicles puts us into the last years of the kingdom of David when infidelity is added to infidelity and the practices of the pagan peoples enter into the religious life of the Jewish people. The warnings of the prophets are unheeded. Consequently the temple and the city of Jerusalem are destroyed and the people taken captive to Babylon. Restoration and return did not come for seventy years and then through the decree of the Persian King Cyrus. Why are we asked to remember these long ago events in 2015? The Israelite people are undergoing their own death-resurrection experience of exile/return. As they reflect on their collective experience they come to a deeper appreciation of how God works in the world. We too much search for the signs of the times for how God is dealing with us today.
“God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life in Christ…that…he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus… By grace you have been saved!” This is how Paul put it. John was more direct; “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” So we realize that through Jesus a powerful force is at work in the hearts and minds of people. It is the power of love.
Fr. Michael Hoolahan, C.P. is on the staff of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.