Fourth Sunday of Lent Year B: Reflections by Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: 2 Chr 36:14-16, 19-23; Ps 137:1-6; Eph 2:4-10 and John 3:14-21
Joy in the Midst of Temporary Suffering
The Entrance antiphon of today’s Liturgy sets the tone for what we are celebrating today. This antiphon taken from the last chapter of Prophet Isaiah 66:10-11 says ‘Rejoice, Jerusalem, be glad for her…” Today, we celebrate the joy of the liberation and love of God, the joy of freedom in Christ, the joy that awaits all of at Easter in spite the difficult journeys of sins and repentance with charitable works we have done thus far.
In the pages of our Christian Bible, both Old and the New Testaments are found records of God’s uncountable and consistent love for us in spite of who we are. The Readings of today are typical examples.
The First reading of today from 2 Chronicle 36 summarizes the hope of restoration long foretold by Israel’s prophet like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Zephaniah. It signals the arrival of restoration and redemption; the end of exile and sufferings, through King Cyrus of Persia, God’s instrument of love and mercy (2 Kings 25:27-30) finally fulfilled Christ’s journey to the Cross. After exiles comes freedom and obedience. After sins come repentance and conversion which are all fruits of God’s love for us insisted in Christ Jesus.
From his own personal experience, Paul, born a Jew, learned in law, reached out to us Gentiles witnessed and bore testimonies to God’s love for us in Christ. Reminding us today Paul says, “ brothers and sisters, God who is rich, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgression, brought us to life with Christ, through grace” (Eph 2:4-10).
Affirming this, our well known passage of John 3:16 says, “ 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.”
In other words as we journey with faith to embrace the joy of Easter, may we witness this faith by the way we respond to God’s unwavering love for humanity from the Old to the renewed Israel, the Church. This we can do by loving our neighbors. We can respond in the way we are ready to forgive those who have offended us; sharing the care and mercies gone has cared and shone us with our neighbors. And we also want to respond to God’s love by the way we live our family lives and vocations, through our work done well, respecting for dignity of every human person, showing good example of faith and hope with fraternal corrections, cheerfulness even in the midst of temporary difficulties and sufferings.