Lubem, [14 Mar 2021 at 7:01:14 am]:
Homily for IV (4) Sunday of Lent Year B. 14-03-2021 by Fr. Lubem Robert Waya, osj.
First Reading: 2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23
Psalm: Psalm 137: 1-2, 3, 4-5, 6
Second Reading: Ephesians 2:4-10
Gospel: John 3:14-21
Today we celebrate Laetare Sunday. This title is taken from our introit of today drawn from Isaiah 66:10 which is a summons for Jerusalem to rejoice. Why are we rejoicing like Jerusalem even though we are still in the season of lent? There are many reasons to rejoice. Today is also mothering Sunday so we rejoice for the gift of motherhood through whom we all came. They nurtured and birthed that life God had given us. May God bless all mothers both living and dead. In addition, we are to rejoice because we have gone midway on our Lenten journey and are now left with only 21 days to get to our anticipated joyous destination of the Easter Sunday. See how God loves us. This is a symbol of hope that sorrow, pain, suffering and death do not have the final say because joy and life comes at the end. It is with this motif in view that Israel rejoices today, that though she has experienced God’s justice, in His mercy she hopes to return home after 70 years of exile in Babylon as we have in the first reading. Her disobedience and unfaithfulness to God brought her these harsh and unfortunate consequences. We must also not forget that our actions and inactions have consequences. What would be the consequences of yours, of the choice of life you have chosen to live? We can make or mar ourselves by what we choose. Our greatest gift after life, which is freedom, also is our greatest risk. We must use it wisely and responsibly of course because success after all has a price. Therefore, it is not God who judges us, but we bring judgement upon ourselves based on the way of life we choose to live. You can still change your ways, for it is never too late. Are you ready?
It is remarkable to also see that God uses what humans least expect to accomplish His purposes. Yes, Israel is His chosen people, but it is the pagan Persian king Cyrus who becomes their ‘messiah’ and resettles them back on their land. Indeed, by this we see that God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts not our thoughts. He does this because He is always a faithful covenant keeping God, even when we are unfaithful. Our salvation is of paramount importance to Him, and that is why He sent His Son to die for us all. Who are you then to write off anyone as useless before God? He is Father of all and does not desire anyone to perish. So, just as every saint has a past, every sinner has a future, and a bright one at that, as long as he or she is not despondent but desirous to repent and become better. Lent is that favourable time, the opportune moment to change from our sinful ways for the better, so what are you waiting for? One who is repentant seeks Christ like Nicodemus who sought Christ even by night. Whenever you approach Him, He will welcome you. So, make hay while the sun still shines, and do not delay.
When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, He prophesied that He would bring healing and forgiveness and a “new birth in the Spirit” signalling victory for us. But how was this going to take place? Jesus explains that the “Son of Man” must be “lifted up” to bring the power and authority of God’s kingdom to bear on earth. Traditionally when kings began to reign, they were literally “lifted up” and enthroned above the people. By this Christ revealed to Nicodemus that He is a king, however His kingship is of a different kind not according to the standards of the world. That is why rather than being lifted up on a throne, He will be lifted up on the cross of calvary. The cross becomes the throne from where He will reign so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life. God surprises us once again using what is least expected since being hung on the cross was the most shameful death in the ancient Roman empire. But just as He used the fiery serpent made by Moses hung on a pole in the wilderness to save rebellious Israel from dying, so also through the “shameful” cross, Christ’s saving work bringing healing and salvation to the world would be accomplished. For it is by the cross that we are saved and reconciled back to God to become His adopted sons and daughters, and the brothers and sisters of Christ. So, what stood for death becomes a symbol of new and eternal life through Christ’s love.
God proved His great love for us by giving us the best He had to offer – His only begotten Son who freely gave Himself as an offering for our sake and as the atoning sacrifice for our sin and the sin of the world. He did this because we are precious to Him, but what are we going to give Him in return? Are we going to let such great act of love and sacrifice for us to be in vain? The only way to show appreciation is to believe in Christ and do what He tells us. He asks us to believe in Him so that we do not perish. Do you believe in Jesus Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Life? If you believe in Him, you will live according to His will and you will find salvation. But if you do not believe in Him, you are condemned already by yourself. Therefore, your judgement is in your hands as Jesus shows teaches us today in the paradox of love and judgement. We can choose Christ who is life and live or choose the devil who is death and die. What do you choose today?
In the end of it all, our salvation as it was for Israel of old being resettled in the Promised Land is not by merit as St. Paul tells us in the second reading. It is by God’s grace and we cannot take any credit for it. Grace here is that unmerited favour and choice by God to save us by inviting us unworthy as we are into friendship with Him through His Son, and the Salvation He has won for us on the cross. If we value His love and cherish His friendship, we will believe in Christ and never forget this greatest act of love He has shown us by becoming one of us and offering His life for us sinners to be saved. For there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. To believe in Him is to love Him above all things by giving Him first place in our lives, thoughts, words and actions. Is God your number one priority in life? Do you love God as much as He loves you? May the Lord touch our hearts today to believe in Him and may He transform us to love and desire Him above all, so that we can desire what He desires and reject what He rejects. This is our prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen.