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Scripture Reflections - March 11
Fourth Sunday of Lent

2nd Chronicles 36:14-16
Ephesians 2: 4-10
John 3:14-21


Archives Msgr Paul E. Whitmore
Msgr. Paul E. Whitmore

This Fourth Sunday of Lent is still called “Laetare  (rejoice) Sunday” because the opening words of today’s Mass are from Isaiah: “Rejoice, Jerusalem…you who mourned for her.”

We are at the mid-point of Lent, so for centuries Christians on this day have “taken a breather” and let up a little on their strict (!) penances.

We also rejoice in the new insights into God’s mercy and great love for us which we find in all three readings.
Second Chronicles (first reading), gives the history of  Israel  from Solomon, the last king of the united kingdom, to King Cyrus of Persia.  Princes, priests and people had “added infidelity to infidelity” by mistreating the prophets and ridiculing God’s message.  Enraged, God had sent them into exile in Babylon for seventy years.

But in his great mercy, he uses a pagan, King Cyrus, who had conquered the Babylonians, to release the enslaved Israelites, sending them back to Jerusalem, loaded with gold and materials for rebuilding the Temple, the center and soul of their worship. 

What striking similarities there are in our own day. 

All we have to do is read surveys and follow the news to know how many in our country wish to make laws that would overturn God’s laws on life, marriage, and family. 

We need to pray that God will forgive us for this flaunting of His laws. If we do not pray and do penance, our religious freedom may be more and more confined to the church buildings.

A reason for hope, however, is found in today’s Gospel.  There, we find one of the most consoling texts in all Scripture: “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.”  What follows is Jesus’ plea that we shun the darkness. That means that we must preach the Gospel  “from the rooftops”.  “For whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.”

That means living in a society under laws of religious freedom.

Along with religious freedom, Christians are meant to have courage and some boldness in taking advantage of it.  We need to make our voices heard along with deep conviction about the truth of our Catholic teaching.  

Indeed, REJOICE this Sunday.

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