Fourth Sunday in Lent – Cycle B

March 13-14, 2020

The message that struck me most in this weekend’s Scripture readings is this: God picks me…and you, not because of how good we are, but because God loves us and wants us to love God in return. Screw up badly, and it’s we who suffer. Get distracted by the world, and it’s we who wander about looking for a meaningful existence. Get wrapped up in selfish pursuits, and it’s God who in a 1000 ways reminds us that it is better to give than to receive. Fr. Rohr, in his book Wild Man to Wise Man, asserts that in our culture many adults, male and female, spend half our lives in worldly pursuits, only to discover that what we value so highly can’t satisfy. Then we turn inward, seeking to fulfill what truly matters to us and to those whom we love.

This seems to be a common experience across the millennia. Our first reading from the second book of Chronicles describes the Israelite’s plummet from grace as God’s special people. They reject God’s laws outright, adopt idols from the surrounding pagan cultures, debase the temple in Jerusalem with idol worship, and disregard the warnings of the many prophets God sends to call them back. Blind to the consequences of their infidelities, they find themselves in exile under the oppressive Assyrian and later Babylonian regimes. Then, helpless in their sins, God hears their cries for redemption and intervenes. God speaks to the heart of the Persian king, Cyrus, releases the Jewish remnant to return to Israel to rebuild the temple and their lives.

But the devil continues his work and in time the Jewish people forget God’s commandments—to love God above all else and their neighbor as themselves. So God sends His only Son, Jesus, to overthrow the devil, restore the Kingdom of God on earth, and offer us the Holy Spirit as our Guide. We hear this familiar verse in John’s Gospel, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life…God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

It is God Who takes the initiative to call us out of sin and into right relationship with our Creator and our neighbor. Because we have been formed in the image and likeness of God, at the very core of our being is the desire to love and to be loved, to do for others what we would like them to do for us. So why do we keep turning away from God in sin? Why do we treat one another at times with such distain, or even hate one another? It’s because we are sinners—all of us, in continual need of the mercy and the unfailing love of our God. The darkness of sin blinds us to this truth, leaving us unsure of our faith, confused at times, and mistakenly thinking that we can succeed on our own.

Today we are reminded that Jesus is the Light come into the world to show us how to live holy lives. Once we see—truly envision our purpose in life as a child of God, we become a source of light for others seeking happiness and salvation. This is our calling! This is our hope—that we might truly see Jesus as our Lord and Savior…and follow him all our days.