Homily Fourth Sunday of Lent. B - Sunday, 11 March 2018
THE LITURGY OF THE WORD
First Reading: 2 Chronicles 36:14-16. 19-23
Psalm: Ps 136. “Let my tongue be silenced if I ever forget you! ”
Second Reading: Ephesians 2:4-10
Gospel Acclamation: John 3:16
Gospel: John 3:14-21
Please listen to my audio recordings of the readings, prayers and reflections for the Fourth Sunday of Lent. B - Sunday, 11 March 2018 by clicking this link here: https://soundcloud.com/user-633212303/lent-4b-faith-hope-and-love (EPISODE: 82 )
We are now at the three-quarter mark of Lent….. our Lenten journey does not have long to go, before Holy week is upon us……
So, during this week, it is a good time to take stock and see how we have been going in the area of “Prayer, Penance and acts of kindness and works of loving and practical charity….”
What a wonderful test… the gospel gives us this weekend……. ”the daylight test”…. How do our actions, our behaviours, and our priorities stand up to the bright light of day… to the searching light of clarity…..
To see how closely we are really adhering to the values of the gospel…. Just let us ask ourselves… how would I really appear, if my secret actions were revealed in plain sight… In the clear glare of the bright light of day… would I be at peace with what I have done..??
As I said last week… take a look at any difference between how we drive when people can recognize us, and how we might drive if we believe we are anonymous, in the dark… unrecognized.. or when no one seems to be looking… How do we act when no one can see…. Are we consistent?
What would we look like, to ourselves or to others, when our works and actions and attitudes are seen in the cold light of day…
If I gossip, tell unjust stories about others, speak uncharitably about someone, act dishonestly, hypocritically How would this all stand up if people could see and hear us as we are doing this?…. Not in the darkness.. not in secret ……..but in plain sight and hearing… What would it really be like if the secret thoughts of many were laid bare… (as Simeon predicted when speaking to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple).
God invites us to be always and everywhere people of the light.. whose behaviour and choices are wrought in the light… and not in the shadows of darkness, concealment and double-standards.
The idea of Jesus being like the serpent lifted up in the desert is a difficult one to take in….. this gospel makes reference to a bronze serpent… in Moses time, … in the wilderness people stopped trusting in God……poisonous snakes invaded the camp……..God instructed Moses to fashion an image of a snake and raise it on a standard….. the people looked upon this terrible image and were cured. God uses the cause of our suffering to be the means of our salvation……// …. Similarly…the image of Jesus on the cross… a picture of unspeakable horror that all look upon and are saved…. picks up on the image of a scapegoat…. something (someone) that is taken to represent all things that we fear, loath and are imprisoned by….. if these awful things can be distilled in one place and then expelled… we are free… It is a bit like the doctor's lance… treating someone with a topical infection……with a quick incision of the lancet…that draws the poison immediately to the surface… to cure the person of the effects of the poison that was lurking just under the surface….. Let us reclaim the full power and meaning of the Cross of Christ… The astounding and confounding sign that God loved us so much that he took all that was dark in the world… all that was thrown at him by those who feared the light… and stretched his hands out and suffered on the cross to break the things of darkness once and for all. God gave absolutely everything and unconditionally to save us, as pure loving gift and grace… and not because we deserved it (quite the contrary) and not because we could earn it (we never could). The cross is the sign of God’s astounding love and mercy at work in practice.
Jesus, out of love… took all that is awful about our human condition upon himself so that he might defeat it in his own body… He was only loving and giving and without sin.. but he took that burden upon himself to lift it from us, (we who are quite incapable of ever lifting it off ourselves). He gives us the path to freedom and salvation…..
All we have to do is respond in faith, humility and trust to Jesus invitation… how we respond to Jesus is decisive…
How people encountered Jesus was judgment enough….it didn’t matter whether they said they loved God or not or observed God’s law perfectly or not… when people met Jesus and accepted him as the Lord of Life…. They were accepting God, and so they were saved. If, however, when they met the person Jesus and rejected him and his values… then this speaks for itself… They lie about loving God and keeping his commands for Jesus is God and he is the fulfilment of God’s law… So, by how they respond to Jesus they bring judgement on themselves … God doesn’t have to do a thing – the response speaks for itself. ……
I would like to end with a modern day parable…
One day a visitor to an art gallery was being taken on a guided tour through an Old masters section of the gallery…. here in this room were many of the most famous pieces of artwork in the world…. at the end of the personal tour, the person being shown the art works said to the tour leader…. ‘’well, I am not much fussed with your pictures..’ to which the tour leader replied… “sir., the pictures are no longer on trial., but those who look at them are……”**
And by this, he was suggesting that when confronted with certain realities, how we react becomes our judgement…..
Fr Paul W. Kelly
**Barclay, W. (1975). The Gospel of John. Part I. 2nd ed. Edinburgh: St. Andrew Press.
DeBona, G. (2014). Between the Ambo and the altar. Year B. 1st ed. Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press.
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Fourth Sunday of Lent. B
(Sunday, 11 March 2018)
(EPISODE: 82 )
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins,
and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries
I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, through my fault, through my fault,* through my most grievous fault; therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin, all the Angels and Saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.
May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection until you come again.
Communion side. pwk: LH
Go forth, the Mass is ended.
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