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Homily: 4th Sunday of Lent

Do you see yourself as created out of God's love and in his image?

Fourth Sunday of Lent B

2 Chronicles 36:14-16,19-23; Ephesians 2:4-10; John 3:14-21

Many of us like to use computers as they make life a lot easier, especially when everything works.  It’s a good feeling. But that only lasts so long.  At some point you may start up your computer only to see that worrying screen with the strange white text telling you that something didn’t go right during the last shut down.  And when that happens, the screen will prompt you to choose from a few options --- the recommended one being a restart with repairs made if necessary.  The hope, of course, is that the error will not be a fatal one, and that your computer will be restored to the exact same way it was before, just the way you had made it --- the ‘default position,’ if you will. 

On this Fourth Sunday of Lent, called laetare, which means  ‘rejoice,’ the  opening antiphon  invites us to joy: ‘Rejoice, Jerusalem.’ What is the reason for this joy midway through Lent? The reason is God’s great love for humankind, as today’s Gospel passage tells us: ‘For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.’

I sometimes wonder how I see myself. What does each of our ‘default positions’ look like?  Put it in another way --- what is the real you?  What is the real me?  Maybe you have never really thought about it.  Maybe you have and you do not like what you see, you do not like what you consider to be the ‘real’ you!

  • Is the real me a selfish person?
  • Is the real me vindictive?
  • Is the real me deceitful, unforgiving, and ungrateful?
  • Is the real me unkind and unloving?

Certainly, we are all those things at times.  But is that the REAL me? Is that the real YOU? Is that your default position, the particular ‘settings’ that God has made you to embody?  Do you see yourself in the same way as God sees you, or in different ways?

How we answer those questions matters. ‘For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.’ If we see ourselves as basically bad and unlovable, then our spiritual life becomes an uphill struggle to try to win God’s love, to try to convince him to love us and not condemn us.  That sort of self-image lends itself to a life lived in fear of God, a life lived to avoid God’s wrath, a life in which we are doomed unless we can convince God otherwise. But if we see ourselves in a much different light, illuminated by what our faith teaches --- that God created us out of love and in his image, then our lives become something entirely different --- filled with meaning and beauty and hope.  It is good to know our limitations and weaknesses; we must be aware of them, however, not in order to despair but to offer them to the Lord who helps us on the path of healing and who never abandons us.

God’s mercy runs throughout today’s readings. God’s people added infidelity to infidelity (first reading); they were ‘dead in their transgressions’ as Saint Paul tells us in the second reading and people preferred darkness to light (Gospel).  However, God’s heart was moved with compassion, not anger, and so, He sent the Son to save and not to condemn.

Do we see ourselves as God sees us?  Can we let him forgive us and transform us anew --- rebooting us to the way he made each of us, each with our own uniqueness and gifts (individual ‘settings’ if you will)?   Rejoice Jerusalem! The antiphon says because God is with us. The Father rich in mercy, who gave his Son to save us and this our joy!  So, at all times and in all circumstances, we are invited to come to the light. May we take that opportunity. ###

 

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