Homily Fourth Sunday of Lent Year B God's love and mercy

By 11:10 AM

Homily: Fourth Sunday of Lent Year B


Reading 1: For the last three Sundays there has been a focus on God’s covenant with men and women over the centuries. The first readings for those Sundays spoke of the covenant God made with Noah, with Abraham and with the Israelites in the desert through Moses. Today, the writer tells us that in spite of God’s providential care, the succeeding generations broke their covenant with God.  Even the dire warnings of the prophets didn’t deter the people from living contrary to their covenant with God.


Finally, as the prophets had warned, the enemies of the people conquered them, destroyed the Temple and the city of Jerusalem. The people were taken into captivity.  That new exile lasted the seventy years prophesied by Jeremiah. Then, God moved a pagan King to restore the people to Judea, so that they could rebuild their Temple to God


God desires the salvation of his people, not their destruction. Their purification was necessary to call them back to the covenant.  We too are covenanted to God in baptism. We renew our covenant in the Eucharist each Sunday. As individuals and as a nation have we lived up to our covenant with God? Are we any different? Will God treat us any differently? Every attempt is being made to secularize our nation, to remove God from it, to segregate God to a private, personal, sentimental relationship. If God treated the people of the Old Testament justly because of their sinfulness, can we expect to be treated differently?


Gospel: Some of the people in the Old Testament failed to believe and act on God’s words. As a result, they were chastised and purified. Jesus in the Gospel emphasizes three major points. 1. He speaks about his future death on the cross. “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”


2. He underscores the love of the Father for his people. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” Jesus in a living sign of the Father’s love. Jesus’ death on the cross is a living sign of the Son’s love for us. The Father and the Son’s love is given to us through the cross that we may have eternal life. Adam and Eve’s sin separated them from God. They no longer shared in God’s divine life. Jesus came to reconcile us, to redeem us and to once more share the divine life of God with us, so we can live with God eternally.


3. He underlines the centrality of the response of faith and action. “Whoever believes in him will not be condemned…Whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.” We can stay in the darkness of sin or enter into the light and life of Christ. The truth of God’s love and what God has done for us through Jesus and the life he calls us to live is evident in his word. To believe is to live in the light. Not to fully believe is to be in the twilight. Not to believe by our actions is to live in the darkness.


Reading 2: The focus is on the gift of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Paul tells us that what Jesus did is a sign of God’s love and mercy. We were once alienated from God because of sin, but God is rich in mercy. Salvation is a gift to be received, not earned. But our life following the gift, experienced through baptism, is to be a reflection of our gratitude.


Faith in Jesus is not just an intellectual assent and acknowledgment of Jesus. It is accepting him as Lord and Savior of our lives. This faith is to be lived and shared. We are called to recognize and embrace the grace of our salvation by becoming more under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Our life is to be a visible witness of our faith. 

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