YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 4TH SUNDAY OF LENT
THEME: BELIEVE AND YOUR JOY WILL BE COMPLETE!
BY: Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara
HOMILY: (2 CHRONICLES 36:14-16,19-23, EPHESIANS 2:4-10, JOHN 3:14-21)
Often special writings of the Church are titled after the first word in the writeup and thus; Today is Laetare Sunday which simply means rejoice Sunday. Why would the Church ask us to rejoice in the centre of a special penitential period? It is unique because, the church exalts us to rejoice in the hope of our salvation and we see that in the core of today’s readings. This account from the Second Book of Chronicles is a pattern that is repeated over and over in the life of our Jewish ancestors, in our lives and also in the life of our Church. We humans find it difficult to remain faithful. When we are unfaithful, God allows us to suffer the consequences and when we return, there is rejoicing! The second reading speaks again about our human failings and God’s mercy. “God, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ. It is the gift of God.” The gospel on its own gets to the apogee “God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that anyone who believes in him might be saved.”
There is this story on the first publication of the bible in Mainz in 1456 about Gutenberg family. Johannes Gutenberg after discovering printing, had the Bible as one the earliest major books printed using mass-produced moveable metal type in Europe. He had a little daughter, Alice, who came into the printing press and picked up a discarded sheet with only one line of print. That line of print read: “God loved the world so much that he gave….” Now, those were times when popular religion was a matter of threat, living in fear and trembling before the awesome wrath of God. So, Alice put the paper in her pocket and kept on thinking on the fact of God being so loving, and her face radiated with joy. Her mother noticed her changed behaviour and asked Alice what was making her so happy and Alice showed her mother the sheet of paper with the printed line. Her mother looked at it for some time and said, “So, what did God give?” “I don’t know,” said Alice, “but if God loved us well enough to give us something, then we need not be so afraid of Him.”
My beloved friends, most times, our hearts are hardened and our ears are closed and so often we do not listen to these words of the Lord. Even when we do listen to them, often we do not believe them. Today, on the Sunday of Lent when we should rejoice, let us open our hearts and listen to God. He only wants to tell us that He loves us and invites us to live a life of commitment to Him. The big difference between God and us is that God gives and forgives, but we get and forget. God is always faithful to his side of the bargain but we always fail in this condition; “so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” this is because we worry over lot of things and suddenly fainthearted.
Gaur Gopal Das talked about a beautiful slide that states: “You have a problem? No! So why do you worry? Do you have a problem? Yes! Can you do something about it? Yes! Then, why do you worry? Do you have a problem? Yes! Can you do something about it? No! Then why do you worry?” leave worries today and wield into action and you will see God’s grace in accompanying you.
My brothers and sisters, we are called to rejoice today because grace has been made available, and our salvation is close at hand as James said; “you too must be patient; do not lose heart, because the Lord’s coming be soon” (James 5:8). What we simply need to do is, believe and live the good life which God created us to live from the beginning. Good life means living as faithful children of God. It means living for God day after day, and time after time. This is the only way our joy can be complete (John16:24).
Rejoice again I say rejoice!
Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara