Meditation for 4th Sunday of Lent, Year B
(2 Chron 36:14-16, 19-23; Eph 2:4-10; Jn 3:14-21)
The first reading narrates the fall of Israel. They were exceedingly unfaithful, and polluted the holy temple in Jerusalem. But God still loved them, and in His compassion, sent them several prophets to warn them and bring them to conversion. “But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising His words…till there was no remedy.” The Chaldeans invaded Israel, burnt down the temple and took the survivors to exile in Babylon until the establishment of the Kingdom of Persia. This is the kind of destruction sin brings to our lives!
In the first year of Cyrus King of Persia, the Lord stirred him up to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. He issued a proclamation to this effect throughout his kingdom. “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…” God demonstrated His universal authority as He used the pagan King to rebuild the temple. The commitment and faithfulness of Cyrus, the gentile King, became a testimony and challenge to the chosen people of Israel, whose unfaithfulness caused the destruction of the temple.
Later, the Jews, still out of their stubbornness of heart, handed Jesus over to the pagan Romans to be lifted up on the Cross. It was as if Jesus was ‘exiled’ from His people up to the Cross of Calvary…Sin, not only tries to destroy us, but it attempts to ‘remove’ God from our midst, or to disconnect us from God. However, Jesus said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.” Faith in Jesus becomes our ‘escape’ from the bite of sin; our remedy and restoration. Jesus rebuilds what was destroyed by the ‘exile of sin’ through His death and resurrection. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
As God prompted the pagan King to rebuild the temple, more so does He prompt us to rebuild our lives through faith in Jesus Christ. “For God sent His Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” Believing in Jesus means ‘gazing upon Him’, allowing Him to prompt our words and actions, avoiding sin and living a righteous life. Those who harden their hearts in evil like the Israel of old, hide their actions from Jesus Christ by denying or withdrawing faith in Him, since Christ the Light will expose their evil deeds.
By our sins we ought to be ‘exiled’ from the Kingdom of God and from the life of grace. But God who is rich in mercy, out of the great love He has for us, restored us to the richness of His grace 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.” So we are equipped and prepared to good works; no more shall sin and its influence rule our lives. We are lifted up above the attraction of sin as we gaze in faith to Jesus, who was lifted on the Cross. Amen.
Fr Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church,
Sunday March 14th, 2021.