4th Sunday of Lent – Cycle B

2 Chronicles 36:14-17, 19-23
Psalm 137:1-6
Ephesians 2:4-10
John 3:14-21

Fr Robert Barron Homily: HESED ALL THE WAY THROUGH


Magnificent readings based on the Divine Love of God — the great theme of the Bible. The readings are a hymn of praise of God’s various modes of love. We must never project our unreliable ways of love on God’s love. This cannot be b/c God is love. God is eternal = never changes. He never falls in and out of his love for us. Hesed = tender mercy. God is Hesed and nothing but Hesed.

First reading Chronicles = 1 & 2 Chronicles is a sweeping history of God’s relationship with Israel. God sends prophets out of love & compassion for the sinful & unfaithful people. Israel mocked the messengers of God & despised his warnings & scoffed at his prophets. The love was offered and the love was refused = story of Israel. So what did the God of love do? The anger of the Lord is not a passing emotion, we have to read it as a modality of love, therefore anger = the passion to set things right. It’s not just destruction, but his passion to set things right. Sometimes drastic measures are the only solution, radical surgery, a tearing down and starting over. When the temple was destroyed, it was above all a theological issue. How else could the dwelling place of God be destroyed? No. Rather, it was construed as a purification. They stayed in Babylon for 70 years = a long and cleaning purification of Israel. An expression of divine love…

How do we read calamities in our own lives? We all experience disaster. How do we read them? just dumb suffering? A sign that God has abandoned us, no! Read them as expressions of divine anger, a modality of God’s love.

Story continues after 70 years… restoration. Babylonians were overrun by Persians, king Cyrus. Lord inspired Cyrus to allow Jews to return home & rebuild the temple. God used a foreign power to do his work.

God, who is Hesed, is consistently faithful to his people.

Love is self-gift. God gives himself to his people.

Gospel — 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.

In the fullness of time God gave us all he possibly could = the incarnation that reached its climax on the Cross. God sent his son all the way into God-forsakeness to light us up out of death… like the lifting up of the serpent.

2nd Reading — Ephesians 2 — God who is rich in mercy. By grace you have been saved. Paul is practically falling over himself trying to sum up God’s love. Mercy love grace kindness. The lavishness of God’s love. The Father gave all He possibly could in the son. God who is Hesed gave his whole self. There is the gospel!

SCOTT HAHN  — Living in the Light

The Sunday readings in Lent have been showing us the high points of salvation history – God’s covenant with creation in the time of Noah; His promises to Abraham; the law He gave to Israel at Sinai.

In today’s First Reading, we hear of the destruction of the kingdom established by God’s final Old Testament covenant – the covenant with David (see 2 Samuel 7; Psalm 89:3).

His chosen people abandoned the law He gave them. For their sins, the temple was destroyed, and they were exiled in Babylon. We hear their sorrow and repentance in the exile lament we sing as today’s Psalm.

But we also hear how God, in His mercy, gathered them back, even anointing a pagan king to shepherd them and rebuild the temple (see Isaiah 44:28-45:1,4).

God is rich in mercy, as today’s Epistle teaches. He promised that David’s kingdom would last forever, that David’s son would be His Son and rule all nations (see 2 Samuel 7:14-15; Psalm 2:7-9). In Jesus, God keeps that promise (see Revelation 22:16).

Moses lifted up the serpent as a sign of salvation (see Wisdom 16:6-7; Numbers 21:9). Now Jesus is lifted up on the cross, to draw all people to himself (see John 12:32).

Those who refuse to believe in this sign of the Father’s love, condemn themselves – as the Israelites in their infidelity brought judgment upon themselves.

But God did not leave Israel in exile, and He does not want to leave any of us dead in our transgressions. We are God’s handiwork, saved to live as His people in the light of His truth.

Midway through this season of repentance, let us again behold the Pierced One (see John 19:37), and rededicate ourselves to living the “good works” that God has prepared us for.

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