God’s Plan for a world so loved
Readings: 2 Chr 36, 14.16.19-23; Ps 137, 1-2.3.4-5.6; Eph 2, 4-10; Jn 3, 14-21
The fourth Sunday of Lent is known as the Laetare Sunday because it is an invitation to rejoice that the celebration of Christ’s victory at Easter is approaching. The austere journey of self-denial and abstinence is leading us to the joy of the paschal mysteries. This joy is a founded one because it is rooted in God’s Plan of love for the world.
Delivered through the enemy?
When the people of Israel became heedless of the covenant relationship with God, they were driven into exile in Babylon. In spite of all the messengers that God sent to His people they chose not to listen. Instead they finally heeded the enemy. Sin is separation from God and its consequence is estrangement. In the first reading we encounter a paradox, namely, that by the hand of their enemy deliverance comes to God’s people. God’s ways are really strange. He uses Cyrus, the king of Persia to bring about the return of the remnants of Israel to their home. The question for us is: “Can God speak to me/us through my/our enemy?” Here is an unsettling thought, but we are told that many saints discovered the best teachers in their enemies. If we are looking for a real Lenten challenge, let us try to hear what God might be telling us through the “enemy”! The enemy could be that person who nerves me. S/he touches a wound in me and thus, reminds me of my need for healing.
God’s final plan
Nowadays, we one speaks of plans, some people become nervous. Instead God undertook various plans in order to win back His estranged children (sinners). In Plan A He ordered a flood to drown all sinners and an arc to save the just. But many unjust ones would be doomed to die. In Plan B He gave His people a precise and exacting law. Wasn’t this for the perfect Pharisee who won a winning ticket through strict observance? In Plan C God sent many prophets. These moved a few and many of them (the true ones) were rejected and killed. The floor seems to have been filled with plans. In the final Plan Z God decides to bring about Salvation by Himself. This is the plan that God settled for. No one deserves it. Whereas human beings continuously plan to get lost, God continuously plans to save.
A world so loved
In a few weeks we shall raise the new Paschal Candle in our assembly. This is Jesus coming into the darkness of the world. The reason for His coming is best presented by the evangelist John: “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” (Jn 3, 16). There is enough for which the world deserves condemnation, but we are reminded that God prefers salvation to condemnation. The light that has come with Christ exposes a lot that needs to be saved in individual lives and in the life of communities. Are we so blind not to see that human dignity and rights are not respected when people are abducted and tortured? Are we so blind not to see that there are neighbors who don’t have what to eat when we re swimming in luxury? Are we so blind not to see violence around us? The questions are inexhaustible. The presence of Jesus in our midst demands that we see. The boundless love of God wants to embrace us in our brokenness and frailty in order to heal us. As we approach the celebration of the Paschal mysteries, let us hasten with joy to fall into the embrace of the outstretched arms of the Savior hanging on the cross. In that embrace let us allow the wounded healer heal us. It is not a throne of judgement but of grace.