Saturday, March 21, 2009

Rich In Mercy and Love - Sunday, March 22, 2009

Reflections on the Readings
Fourth Sunday of Lent, March 22, 2009, Year B
By Dennis Hankins

2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23
Psalm 137:1-6
Ephesians 2:4-10
John 3:14-21

Theme: Rich In Mercy and Love

The immeasurable riches of our Father's grace was expressed in unmatchable kindness when He gave us His only Son.

Great hope and life came to him bitten by a poisonous snake as he looked upon the bronze serpent lifted up in the wilderness.  For the same purpose the Son of Man was lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.  This invitation to abundant life, the very life of the Holy Trinity, is promised to each of us who will with all of our heart, mind, soul, body and strength, believe in Jesus, the Son of God.

A certain sense of unworthiness is appropriate.  We express this not in a morbid sense but rather in faith when we say, "I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed."  To be ever grateful of the great kindness of God toward us is the reason we celebrate the Eucharist, the reason we embrace the discipline of Lent.  

Words like 'immeasurable' invoke in us a faith that believes that God can do exceedingly abundantly above all we can ever ask or think. (Ephesians 3:20) That this understanding of God may increase in us we devote ourselves to 40 days of self examination.  In this posture of humility we meet with him who wills that we may be illuminated with the truth, the truth that God is love.  

Becoming poor for our sake, Jesus came that the world might be saved through him.  So when you come to the confessional this Holy Lent, know for sure, Jesus came not into the world to condemn you but that you might be saved.  

Some resist confession because of a fear of the light; a light that reveals our great need for the riches of God's mercy and love.  If you find yourself thinking it's safer to keep some things unconfessed is to love the darkness rather than the light.  Rather embrace the light of his love that both exposes and entreats, reveals and redeems.

The very essence of the good news is that God is not willing that anyone should perish.  It is imperative that we be as unwilling that any should perish, that any should die not knowing God is love.  We can demonstrate our understanding of the immeasurable riches of God's mercy and love by how we pray for each other, by how we pray for our family and friends, by how we pray for the world.

Richly and freely the mercy and love of the Lord flows.   This treasure St. Paul describes as 'immeasurable.'  As we walk out our Lenten pilgrimage we discover that the infinite meaning of Lent is how God freely gave of himself.  In the incarnation we learn how Jesus did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, being born in the likeness of men.(Philippians 2:6) Without reservation God the Son poured out his mercy and love.  

We see in Jesus that God draws near to us.  He is not impersonal. He is not remote and far off.  With immeasurable kindness God welcomes us home, embracing us so that he might whisper in our ear words that even the hardest heart will understand; He says to you and me, "I love you."

Let us Pray: Dear Jesus, such love that never lets go; may I ever rejoice in your embrace.  Amen.    

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