Saturday, March 14, 2015
4th SUNDAY OF LENT (Laetare Sunday)
March 15, 2015 - 4th SUNDAY OF LENT (Laetare Sunday)
2 Chr 36:14-16, 19-23 / Eph 2:4-10 / Jn 3:4-21
First Reading: 2 Chr 36:14-16, 19-23
Furthermore, all the heads of the priesthood, and the people, too, were exceedingly unfaithful, following the disgusting example of the nations around them, and so they defiled the house which Yahweh himself had made holy. Yahweh, the God of their ancestors, continued to send prophets to warn his people, since he had compassion on them and on his dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, ignored his words, and laughed at his prophets, until at last the anger of Yahweh rose so high against his people that there was no further remedy.
They burned down the house of God, broke down the walls of Jerusalem, set fire to all its palaces, and destroyed everything of value in it. The survivors were deported by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon; they were to serve him and his descendants as slaves until the kingdom of Persia came to power. This is how the work of Yahweh was fulfilled that he spoke through Jeremiah, "The land will lie desolate for seventy years, to make up for its Sabbath rests that have not been observed."
And in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, to fulfill what he had said through the prophet Jeremiah, Yahweh stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia to issue the following command and send it out in writing to be read aloud everywhere in his kingdom: "Thus speaks Cyrus king of Persia: Yahweh, the God of heaven, who has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, has ordered me to build him a house in Jerusalem, in Judah. Now, all of you who belong to his people, go there and may Yahweh your God be with you."
Second Reading: Eph 2:4-10
But God, who is rich in mercy, revealed his immense love. As we were dead through our sins, he gave us life with Christ. By grace you have been saved! And he raised us to life with Christ, giving us a place with him in heaven.
In showing us such kindness in Christ Jesus, God willed to reveal and unfold in the coming ages the extraordinary riches of his grace. By the grace of God you have been saved through faith. This has not come from you: it is God's gift. This was not the result of your works, so you are not to feel proud. What we are is God's work. He has created us in Christ Jesus for the good works he has prepared that we should devote ourselves to them.
Gospel: Jn 3:4-21
Nicodemus said, "How can there be rebirth for a grown man? Who could go back to his mother's womb and be born again?" Jesus replied, "Truly, I say to you: No one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Because of this, don't be surprised when I say: 'You must be born again from above.'
The wind blows where it pleases and you hear its sound, but you don't know where it comes from or where it is going. It is like that with everyone who is born of the Spirit."
Nicodemus asked again, "How can this be?" And Jesus answered, "You are a teacher in Israel, and you don't know these things!
Truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and we witness to the things we have seen, but you don't accept our testimony. If you don't believe when I speak of earthly things, what then, when I speak to you of heavenly things? No one has ever gone up to heaven except the one who came from heaven, the Son of Man.
As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
Yes, God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but may have eternal life. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world; instead, through him the world is to be saved. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned. He who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the Name of the only Son of God.
This is how the Judgment is made: Light has come into the world and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For whoever does wrong hates the light and doesn't come to the light for fear that his deeds will be shown as evil. But whoever lives according to the truth comes into the light so that it can be clearly seen that his works have been done in God."
Our Gospel reading reminds us of the famous theme song during the 1995 World Youth Day in Manila: "For God so loved the world he gave his only Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior, his most precious One. . . "The song further says that God's message of love is brought to everyone "in a voice loud and clear."
As we approach Holy Week in two weeks, the message of God's love in Jesus becomes even clearer. At his Last Supper with his disciples Jesus will tell them, "There is no greater love than this, to give one's life for one's friends. . ." (Jn 15:13) In our solemn commemoration of the Lord's death on Good Friday these words of Jesus become clearer in his actions as he lays down his life for all of us.
The message of God's love, however, often gets blurred when we ourselves experience trials and difficulties in our lives. Oftentimes we find it difficult to understand why a loving God will allow us to suffer in various ways. Very often when we experience tragedies and disasters like typhoons, floods, earthquakes and violence, it is easier to think that God is condemning and punishing us, especially when we are conscious of our own shortcomings and sinfulness.
Hence, whenever difficulties come into our lives, we are invited to believe in God who loves us very much. With faith, we can recognize our loving God when he suffers with us and saves us from our difficulties. Just as those who believed
and looked at the bronze serpent lifted by Moses in the desert were healed and saved, we who believe and look at Jesus on the cross will also be saved, rather than be condemned.
We cause our own condemnation when we do not believe. We are saved when we believe in God's unconditional love for us even in the midst of many trials and in the midst of our own failures and infidelities to him.
WE PRAY FOR MTQ DAILY PRAYER DIARY INTENTIONS:
MARIO P. ESCALANTE
Have a good day!
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