14Mar March 14, 2021. Fourth Sunday of Lent

March 14, 2021

Fourth Sunday of Lent

(1) 2 Chronicles 36:14-23

For their sins the people were exiled to Babylon. But God’s mercy will bring them back

All the leading priests and the people also were exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abomination of the nations; and they polluted the house of the Lord that he had consecrated in Jerusalem. The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place; but they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words, and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord against his people became so great that there was no remedy.

They burned the house of God, broke down the wall of Jerusalem, burned all its palaces with fire, and destroyed all its precious vessels. He took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfil the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had made up for its sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept sabbath, to fulfil seventy years.

In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, in fulfillment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord stirred up the spirit of King Cyrus of Persia so that he sent a herald throughout all his kingdom and also declared in a written edict: “Thus says King Cyrus of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him! Let him go up.”

Responsorial: Psalm 137

Response: Let my tongue be silent, if I ever forget you!

By the rivers of Babylon
there we sat and wept
remembering Zion.
On the willows that grew there
we hung up our harps. (R./)

It was there that they asked us
our captors for songs,
our oppressors for joy.:
“Sing for us” they said “the songs of Zion!” (R./)

How could we sing a song of the Lord
in a foreign land?
If I forget you, Jerusalem,
may my right hand be forgotten! (R./)

May my tongue cleave to my palate
if I remember you not,
If I place not Jerusalem
ahead of my joy.(R./)

(2) Ephesians 2:4-10

We are saved not through our own efforts but through the mercy of God

But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God- not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

Gospel: John 3:14-21

God sent his only Son, not to condemn but to save us

And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”

Love Lifted Up

Have you noticed the types of phrases we use when describing something wonderful? I catch myself saying things like being ‘over the moon’ or ‘on cloud-nine.’ A friend talks about being in the ‘seventh heaven!’ Now, that admission may say a lot both of us, but I can’t help thinking that our deepest experiences are those that have a power to lift us up. Such experiences take us out of ourselves. They uplift us and we perceive things differently.

Jesus is always inviting us to see things differently. When Nicodemus sought out Jesus, he was in the dark ” both really and symbolically. He couldn’t see clearly. In the years that followed this late night conversation, Nicodemus became a follower of Jesus and, step by step, was drawn to see things differently. At last he finally did see. When at the end, Jesus was really and truly lifted up, Nicodemus was not too far away.

When we meditate on the crucifix and participate in the Eucharist we also see Jesus lifted up. Perhaps today as I lift my eyes to see him, I might ponder on the mystery of suffering and exaltation and wonder at the love that is lifted up and draws us ever closer, uplifting us as well. (Kathryn Williams)


One Response

  1. Thara Benedicta

    Key Message:
    Book your seat in Christ Jesus for life’s journey and enjoy His rest during the journey!!


    Takeaway from first reading and second reading:

    God has planned for both our life on earth and also the ‘next part’ beautifully. He has chartered great plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11) while we journey on earth and the free gift of salvation when we end our journey on earth. He keeps planning for us, iteratively, as and when we spoil His current plan. Always there is a flourishing next plan for us, when dwelling on earth!!

    Similarly as we go to Him for cleansing from our sins with a contrite heart, in the name of our dear Lord Jesus, the blood of Jesus frees us from all sins, entitling us for Heaven!! It is a consoling for us to know that what we are not able to do on our own, God does it for us. Though we spoil His plan for us on earth or reaching heaven, He provides His alternate plan.

    Takeaway from Gospel reading:

    Today’s Gospel teaches us that we are saved by God’s grace only and not by our good works. It’s so relieving for us, because though we try to do good stuff, we will not always end up in completing the good work. It’s because we are imperfect people. If we do not understand this truth, then we will feel guilty all the time internally in our hearts. If God’s love is only based on our good works, then we do not have any hope of tasting God’s love. Salvation cannot be earned by us. We cannot be good enough to earn our salvation. Salvation is the free gift of God. Our Lord Jesus Christ paid the price and purchased salvation for us. Hence, anyone who believes in Lord Jesus receives salvation as their free gift.

    How can we fully describe in words the mercy and the love of God!!

    Thoughts to ponder:
    God has considered our salvation as His first priority. He sacrificed His only Son on the cross for our salvation.
    Do we consider God as the first priority in our life?

    Resting in life’s journey :

    1. Can we even think about doing a penance for every sin we commit (sinning in thought, word or deed)? God already knew that we could not!! Hence He sacrificed His Son and gave us salvation as a free gift. Are you grieving for your past sins? No, not required. Go ahead and make a good confession (if it’s not possible now due to pandemic – confess to God) and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ will wash away all the sins.

    2. God loves us irrespective of whether we love Him or not. Sometimes we feel that we are not loving God enough, hence it will make God unhappy. Sometimes we feel that we are not meeting the expectations of God, hence God will be unhappy with us. I also experienced this kind of feeling many times in my life. Readings from today provides clarity on this. When a child calls his dad, ‘Pappa’ and runs to him, the dad happily hugs his child, not remembering any of his faults. The same way when we go to God our Father in the name of our dear Jesus, our loving Father hugs us and does not remember any of our faults. Whenever you feel that you may have made God unhappy, say to Him openly; for example, say ‘Jesus, I love you. If am not doing what I have to do, please show me what I need to do’ or ‘Jesus, forgive me’ or ‘Thank you Jesus’. Whatever you feel in your heart, openly talk with Him.

    3. Even though God knows your feelings and He understands you, He loves to hear you speak with Him.

    4. The Second Reading says that God has seated us in the Heavenly places in Christ Jesus. It does not say once we reach Heaven we will be seated in Heavenly places. But it says that we are already seated in Heavenly places. Consider the analogy of the kingdom of God. The first prayer I understood when I was a child was ‘Our Father’. But whenever ‘thy kingdom come’ phrase was mentioned, I was wondering how God’s kingdom of heaven will come down on earth now. I was not able to realise that kingdom of God is in each of our hearts. It does not mean the physical existence of the kingdom of God. Similarly, seated in heavenly places means enjoying the rest of God in our heart while we still dwell on earth.

    5. How do we enjoy the rest of God while we still journey on earth? It means trusting that God is our loving Father, He will never leave me alone and so I shall be in peace, enjoying His favours.

    6. Do not give yourself to worry or anxiety when you have unanswered questions. Just believe that God will take care of you. He will make a way.

    7. If you lose your job, or business goes down or colleagues give you problems or you are suffering with sickness or pain or a child is not going in the right path or whatever may be the sufferings you are in – God wants us to experience the rest of God in Christ Jesus, while we are undergoing challenging times. Say the Scriptures as Jesus did like – “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear” or “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles” (pick whatever suits you from the Bible, especially the Psalms!!)

    8. God has prepared beforehand our way of life. He has already prepared a plan for us, even before we were born. The famous scripture from Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. You may think, “Then why am I undergoing all these sufferings in my life?” The plans originally made by God were all good. Either our enemy – the satan, or our own selves or people around us, spoil it. But God is so capable that He takes all our spoils and works it out for our bright future!! Even if we have harmed our own life, come back to God. Never consider your life as a failure. God will remould the clay in your life into beautiful vessels for Him!!