4th Sunday in Lent
03/22/2009
Readings
2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23
Ephesians 2:4-10
John 3:14-21

Throughout the pages of Scripture we find God’s infinite mercy on display. Whether it be the story of Joseph and his brothers or the parable of the Prodigal Son, one aspect of God shines forth particularly clearly in the Bible: His infinite mercy. Although we deserve condemnation, He has mercy upon us over and over again.

Today’s first reading tells of the Exile of the Jews to Babylon. The biblical author makes clear that the blame for this traumatic event can only be placed at the feet of the Israelites themselves. They had “added infidelity to infidelity, practicing all the abominations of the nations and polluting the LORD'S temple” (2 Chronicles 36:14). Yet it is also made clear that this event is a mercy to the Chosen People: it allows them a “sabbath rest” and through their humiliation they can return to the Lord. And God does not forget His people, allowing them to return to Jerusalem under King Cyrus.

Yet even after this mercy, God’s people - and all the world - continue to defy Him and deserve condemnation. St. Paul says bluntly that “we were dead in our transgressions” (Ephesians 2:5). We had rejected God and instead followed our own wicked ways. We deserved nothing other than condemnation. But Jesus proclaims in today’s Gospel that “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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17). What a marvelous mercy! Instead of giving the world what it rightly deserves due to its continued infidelity to God, the Lord sends His only Son to save us. God’s great mercy can never be outdone by our sinfulness.

God’s mercy continues to be with us today. Although we persist in sinning against Him, He has given us the great sacrament of reconciliation to restore us to fellowship with Him. Contemplate the beauty of this sacrament: no matter what we do or how we reject Him, God is always available – and waiting! – to forgive us when we are sorry. He waits on the porch looking in the distance for us to return to Him, running to embrace us at the first glimpse of our return. “[N]either death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). Praise be to the all-merciful God!


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