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Friday, 13 March 2015

Reflection/Homily: Fourth (4th) Sunday of Lent Year B (March 15 2015)

Reflection/Homily: Fourth (4th) Sunday of Lent Year B (March 15 2015)
Theme: God’s Immeasurable Love for Humanity
Today’s readings challenge us to reflect on God’s immeasurable love for humanity and its implications for us. In the first reading (2 Chr. 36:14-16, 19-23), the Israelites with their political and religious leaders all rebelled against God and defiled God’s dwelling place. Out of love for them, God constantly sent messengers to direct and teach them but their messages were treated with scorn. God did not abandon them but He kept on watching them as they neglected His Love and wallowed in sin. Being vulnerable for being outside of God’s love, they were attacked and taken into captivity by the Babylonians. When they suffered and learnt their lessons, God had to intervene because of the love He had for them by raising up a king who will proclaim their liberty, offer them treasures and help them rebuild the Temple as we see in Ezra chapter 1.
The second reading (Eph 2:4-10), also confirms this love of God not just for the Israelites alone but for all of us. It says that because of God’s love for us, He was generous to us with His mercy, to the extent that even when we were spiritually dead because of our sins, He had to look for us and gave us life. In our sinfulness, we run far away from God and brand ourselves enemies of God but in God’s love, He finds us wherever we go, brings us nearer to Himself and brands us His friends, not by merit but by virtue of His mercy built on grace. Thus, a reflection on the love of God is a reflection on the mercy of God which brings about a salvation built on the platform of grace. That is why the reading also exhorts us never to claim to be worthy of God’s salvation since it is a privilege gained through grace and not on merit. But this grace has to be activated to bear fruits through faith.

In the gospel reading (John 3:14-21), we see the apex of God’s love. It recalls some significant events propelled by God’s love. It was because of God’s love for us that He gave out His only son so that those who believe in Him may not perish but gain eternal life. The Son of God incarnated in love came not to condemn the world but to save the world. People only condemn themselves when they recalcitrantly or deliberately refuse to believe. This love also made him to be the light of the world, to dispel the darkness in the hearts of men. To culminate this, this love which emanated from the Father through the Son caused the Son to be lifted up as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert.
These significant events therefore, have several implications for us especially during this period of lent. Love is sacrificial and as God sacrificed His son to save us, what have we sacrificed for the benefit of others? Have we fasted to feed others, prayed to edify others and performed charity to help others? Have you believed in Jesus so as to gain eternal life? Faith in Jesus includes total resignation to His will, accepting the cross and following Him. Do you decide to do your will or the will of God and do you carry your cross patiently? Our faith should be proved by our good works which should please God in all circumstances. This Son came not to condemn but to save the world. What efforts have you made to save your derailing brothers and sisters or do you go about condemning them? Jesus came to save by being the light of the world, shinning for all to see and dispelling the darkness everywhere He went. Have you been a light where there is darkness? Have you sown peace where there is discord and love where there is hatred? As the light you should be a standard and your good works should be shinning for others to see and emulate.
More significantly, for the same love, Jesus allowed Himself to be lifted up as Moses lifted up a bronze serpent in Numbers 21:9. Jesus was lifted up on a cross so that all those bitten by the deadly serpent of sin might look up to Him for healing and salvation. He also wants to draw our attention from distracting sideways to elevated things (signifying interest in heavenly things). He wants us to see our crosses as elevation and not as depression. He wants to be the standard we shall look up to and emulate. He also wants to heal and bless us from above. Are you actually looking up to Christ on the cross? Beloved friends, as the love of God and its benefits are communicated to us today, bear in mind that this love of God at the universal level cannot gain you salvation unless you appropriate it to a personal level and make it a deep personal encounter with God. To do this, Jesus is there on the cross to help us with the required graces, for He says “when I am lifted up, I will draw all men to myself” (John 12:32). Therefore let us go to Jesus with this song on our lips “draw me nearer, nearer to Thee, Lord….” God loves you.
                                                             -            Uwakwe Chibuike MFC

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