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Fourth Sunday of Lent – March 10, 2024

Bishop’s Reflections

March 10, 2024

Every day of Lent, Bishop Edward Malesic writes a Scripture reflection for the faithful. Follow the bishop on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Click HERE for the readings.

Fourth Sunday of Lent – March 10, 2024

Saint Paul wrote consoling words in our Second Reading today: “God is rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2:4).

Our First Reading talks about God’s mercy directed to a nation that had forgotten Him. The people of Judah, despite being warned by the prophets, rejected God, dishonored their religion, and “added infidelity to infidelity.”

The result: the moral fiber of their nation was weakened and the help they needed from God to survive did not come. They were captured by the pagans of Assyria, the walls of their city were torn down, Jerusalem was burned to the ground, the temple was destroyed, most of the people were massacred, and only a small remnant survived. Those few who did survive were deported to Babylon, where they sat by the rivers and wept as they remembered their lost homeland (see psalm 137:1). To reject God and God’s commandments never leads to anything good. We need to remember that as individuals and as a community.

Now, after some time of exile, God inspired King Cyrus to let the people go back to Jerusalem and restore their culture and their worship. God desired to push the restart button, if you will, for the people of Judah.

God is rich in mercy. He only wants our good and He works for our good. This gives all of us hope.

What happened to the people of Judah also happens to us as individuals. We sin, we become weak, despite multiple warnings, we walk away from God, and we become enslaved by the powers of darkness. But God wants to draw us back to Him.

Unlike the people referred to in the Gospel, we should never prefer darkness to the light.

We should struggle to find a way out of our human predicament and our tendency to give in to temptation.

And we have a way out.

It is called faith. Faith is the trusting belief that Jesus is God’s Son, that he died on the cross to forgive our sins, and that he rose from the dead to show us the way to eternal life: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). Let’s never reject the gift of faith that has been shared with us!

If we ever have any doubt that God wants us to find new life by having faith in Jesus and believing that he can forgive us of any sin, we need to read and re-read John 3:16 — “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.”

This saving faith in Jesus cannot be inherited like the genes of our parents. Every person must come to faith and accept it on his or her own. It is offered to us by others (e.g. our parents and our pastors), but we must be the ones to embrace it. It is often a struggle to finally say in faith, “I do believe in you, Jesus. I trust in you.” But it is a struggle that we must have if we want to enter the Kingdom of God.

And when we finally say with conviction, “I do believe that you love me enough to forgive me, God” — it is like the people of Judah being released from captivity and coming back home again. It is like a sinner who was burdened down, but lifted up by the words “I absolve you.” It is like being raised from the dead.

God is rich in mercy. There is much in that to be filled with joy.

Have a blessed week everyone.

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