4th Sunday of Lent Year B

Last week we hear God giving the Ten Commandments to his people (Exodus 20:1-17).  God made it clear to his people how He expected them to live.  It’s not just what He wanted.  God knows that the Ten Commandments are good for us.

While God knew that the Ten Commandments are good for his people, it wasn’t long before they began breaking them.  God’s people have a history of sin over the centuries.  We hear of their sins in today’s first reading from 2 Chronicles, “In those days, all the princes of Judah, the priests, and the people added infidelity to infidelitypracticing all the abominations of the nations and polluting the LORD’s temple which he had consecrated in Jerusalem.”

Do you follow the Ten Commandments or do you sin?

God had not given the Ten Commandments only to abandon his people.  He wanted to help them.  “Early and often did the LORD, the God of their fathers, send his messengers to them.”  God sent the prophets as his messengers to warn them of their sins and call them to a better way of life. 

Why did God send his messengers?  Because “he had compassion on his people.”  God loves his people.

How did the people respond through the centuries as God sent his messengers?  “They mocked the messengers of God, despised his warnings, and scoffed at his prophets.

Does the same thing still not happen today?  When someone offers the gospel to people today are they not sometimes mocked for their faith?  At times, some people scorn us for our Christan beliefs.  Other people simply ignore the warnings that God offers them.  Sin continues…

In the time 2 Chronicles was written, the sin of the people had gotten so bad that God allowed them to fall in battle against their enemies.  Their enemies even “tore down the walls of Jerusalem.”  Yet, the people initially failed to understand why God allowed this.  They did not recognize their own sins.

Are we any different today?  Do we recognize our own sins and repent?  Do we recognize the sins of society and point our society back to God?

Today’s first reading ends with a few verses of what happens after the Exile is over.  “The LORD inspired King Cyrus” with a message and charged him to build a new house for the Lord in Jerusalem.  King Cyrus does it.  Good things happen when people listen to the Lord.  The first temple had been destroyed because the Israelites did not listen to God.  A new temple was built when King Cyrus, who was not a Jews, listened to the Lord and fulfilled what God asked of him.

As today’s psalm says, “By the streams of Babylon we sat and wept…How could we sing a song of the LORD in a foreign land.”  In exile, God’s people lamented their defeat.  From their lament, many of them came to realize their sins and repented. 

I pray this happens today.  Society needs to recognize its sins.  Sins that kill innocent babies.  Sins that mask ending the life of the terminally ill early as false compassion.  Sins of greed and thirst for power that leads to wars.  Sins that do not respect our own bodies and/or the bodies of others.  Sins of omission in not standing up for the poor.  I pray that God opens all our eyes to the sins of our world today.

Is there hope?  Yes!

Paul writes to the Ephesians in today’s second reading, “God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for useven when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ — by grace you have been saved.”  We may be sinners but God still loves us.  While we must repent and allow God to change us, our salvation does not come from our own works.  “It is the gift of God.”

How does God present this gift to us?

We find the answer in today’s gospel (specifically John 3:16-17), “For 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.”

This is what provides our hope.  Jesus makes salvation possible.

Still some people don’t repent.  They like the pleasures of their sins.  They keep to their wicked ways.  They do not accept the Light of Christ.  “For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed.  But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.”

In Baptism we receive the Light of Christ.  Embrace the Light and let it shine through you to others.


Fr. Jeff

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